Hawaii Auto Market Posts 1.1% Increase in 2010, Predicts 9% Improvement 2011

January 21, 2011, 11:20 AM HST · Updated January 29, 2:23 AM
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By Sonia Isotov

The Hawaii Auto Dealers Association released their 4th Quarter 2010 Hawaii Auto Outlook report showing a light sales increase of 1.1% in 2010 statewide.

Maui showed a .6% decline in total new retail light vehicle registrations between 2009 and 2010; with 3006 registration in 2009 and 2989 in 2010.

But the sales rebound is expected to pick up steam. Auto Outlook predicts the Hawaii new vehicle market will improve 9% this year, with new retail light vehicle registra­tions moving above 37,000 statewide in 2010.

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Additionally, Auto Outlook predicts that Hawaii new retail light vehicle registrations will exceed 50,000 units in 2013, a 50% increase from the downturn’s low point of 33,639 in 2009

Despite the im­provement, the market will still be well below the nearly 70,000 unit figure in 2005.

Two main contradictory forces are impacting the market. First, on the positive side, pent up demand is at record-high levels.

On the flip side, the second main force im­pacting the market (excessive household debt) is likely to assure that the rebound will be relatively gradual.

Despite some moderate improvement over the past several years, many households are still over-leveraged.  Many homeowners owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth, and debt service payments are still eating up a large chunk of disposable income.

An expanding economy, combined with the resultant improvement in employment and incomes is expected to help relieve the debt burden, but it will take continued sub­dued retail spending for households to reduce debt and build savings.

Auto Outlook states that the market will almost certainly improve again in 2011 for the second straight year, with subsequent increas­es likely to follow.

The report also mentions that the top selling brand in 2010 was the Toyota Scion; both in the U.S. retail market and in Hawaii.

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