Business & Real Estate

California auto sales nearing 2005 record

Statewide new-car registrations in this year’s first half totaled 1.05 million, up 2.8 percent from the first six months of a strong 2015.

In its quarterly statewide sales report released Monday, the Sacramento-based California New Car Dealers Association projected 2016 sales to come in at 2.1 million, close to the all-time record of 2.15 million set in 2005.

“For 23 consecutive quarters now, car registrations have increased. That’s a fantastic run,” said CNCDA Chairman Dennis Hardin, who oversees the Hardin Honda dealership in Anaheim. “While the rate of growth has slowed from the furious pace of last year, the numbers show that the market should remain strong well into 2017.”

For perspective, there were as many registrations in the first half of 2016 as there were in all of 2009, when the new-car market was hammered by the recession.

CNCDA noted that year-over-year improvement in the second quarter of 2015 was nearly 10 percent. The auto dealer group’s report, compiled by Auto Outlook Inc., noted: “With the market exceeding 2 million units in 2015, it was becoming clear that the days of double-digit percentage gains were coming to an end.

“The big question now is when will slower growth transfer to stable or declining sales. Frankly, it’s difficult to pinpoint at this moment.”

Mark Glover: 916-321-1184, @markhglover