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EV’s put charge into state auto sales

HONOLULU — Hawai‘i auto sales, stymied by the lingering effects of the Aug. 8, 2023 Maui wildfires, are expected to accelerate 3.7 percent this year amid the possibility of lower income rates in the upcoming months, falling vehicle prices and strong wage gains.

Alternative powertrain vehicles likely will lead the charge, as the state continues its transition away from fossil fuels.

Battery electric vehicle registrations in the state rose 11 percent in the first quarter from the year-earlier period, as the market share of BEVs among all vehicles sold in Hawai‘i reached a record 15 percent, according to a recent report from Hawai‘i Auto Outlook. Tesla’s share of the BEV market was 60.5 percent in the first quarter, with the Tesla Y the automaker’s most popular brand.

Hybrid vehicles encompassed 11.2 percent of the market share in the first quarter; plug-in hybrids’ market share was 2.2 percent.

New vehicle registrations for all vehicles declined 2.1 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, but are anticipated to hit 48,300 this year. That would be up from 46,566 in 2023, and up from 47,769 in 2022. In 2021, registrations topped 50,000 at 54,591.

“Pent-up demand is still significant and the state labor market is recovering,” Jeffrey Foltz, editor of Hawai‘i Auto Outlook, wrote in the quarterly report that is produced for the Hawai‘i Automobile Dealers Association. “Vehicle affordability is still a concern, but should improve as the year progresses. Barring any unforeseen negative shocks, we think the new vehicle market should move higher in 2024.”

New vehicle registrations can be representative of auto sales, but the two don’t always align because a buyer can purchase a vehicle one month and register it in another. The data is based on county Department of Motor Vehicles registrations.

It was a mixed first quarter among the islands as registrations plunged 25.7 percent on Kaua‘i and declined 7.9 percent on Hawai‘i Island, but advanced 3 percent on Maui and inched up 0.4 percent on O‘ahu.

Toyota was the bestselling brand in the first quarter with a 28.4 percent market share, followed by Honda at 11.6 percent, Tesla at 9.1 percent, Ford at 6.9 percent and Nissan at 5.4 percent.

The market share for the top-selling models in the state last quarter were To­yota Tacoma, 7.3 percent; Tesla Model Y, 5.6 percent; Toyota 4Runner, 4.5 percent; Toyota RAV4, 4.3 percent; and Toyota Corolla, 3.9 percent.

Light trucks — which include vans, SUVs and pickups — maintained their large lead over cars with a 76 percent market share versus 24 percent for cars. Consumers continue to opt for larger vehicles because of more visibility, additional room for storage and stable gas prices.
Source: The Garden Island

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