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LI car sales growth slowing

Registrations of new Toyota vehicles rose almost 43

Registrations of new Toyota vehicles rose almost 43 percent on Long Island in May from a year earlier. Nationally, sales of Toyota’s Prius model, seen above at Westbury Toyota, tripled. (July 12, 2012) Credit: Barry Sloan

Long Island's new vehicle market slowed its growth in May as strong increases by Honda and Toyota managed to overcome declines by Hyundai and most domestic makes.

Registrations of new vehicles rose by 4 percent for the month over a year earlier, to 16,666 cars and trucks, said data provider R.L. Polk & Co. Nationally during May, new car and truck sales rose by 26 percent, although that figure includes sales to fleets.

Last year's tsunami-related supply problems long behind them, Honda and Toyota came roaring back in May locally and nationally. Toyota registrations jumped by almost 43 percent in Nassau and Suffolk in May from a year earlier, while Honda's rose by 37 percent.

The tsunami that struck Japan in March of last year and flooding later in Thailand interrupted production of Hondas and Toyotas and components, causing shortages at dealerships that sent sales plummeting in subsequent months.

In May of last year, Hyundai and major Detroit carmakers filled the gap and then some so that registrations rose from May of 2010 by almost 9 percent. "Last year you had a situation where people needed a car but these Hondas and Toyotas weren't available so they went to the domestics," said Rebecca A. Lindland, director of research in the Norwalk, Conn., office of the consulting firm IHS Automotive.

But in May of this year, Polk said, registrations of Buicks, Cadillacs, Chevrolets, Chryslers, Dodges, GMC's and Lincolns declined. Among domestic makes, only Jeep rose, by 1.6 percent. Nationally, though, most domestics gained during May.

"Honda and Toyota are back in the sandbox to play," said Chevrolet, Kia and Mazda dealer Mark Calisi of Eagle Auto Mall in Riverhead.

Nissan, less affected by the tsunami, saw its Long Island registrations rise in May by almost 7 percent but Hyundai registrations fell by almost 13 percent.

Figures for individual models weren't available for Long Island but, nationally in May of this year, Toyota's increase over a year earlier was led by its best selling model, the Camry, whose sales more than doubled; the Corolla, whose sales almost doubled; and the Prius, whose sales tripled from a year earlier. For Honda, the Civic, followed by the Accord, led the way.

In April, registrations of new vehicles on Long Island rose by 12.5 percent from a year earlier, to 16,163 vehicles, led by Toyota and Nissan, Polk reported last month.

In March, Long Islanders had registered 8.5 percent fewer new cars and trucks than a year earlier. February's figures were flat compared with a year earlier but, in January, the total was up 6.5 percent.

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