The Garden Island
LIHUE — New auto sales are speeding up. Light vehicle registrations are forecast to reach over 60,000 statewide by the end of the year, according to a recent study by Hawaii Auto Outlook.
Best selling brands on Kauai for the year include Toyota, with more than 30 percent of the market, and Honda, with nearly 16 percent, according to the November IHS Markit data sourced on behalf of the Hawaii Automobile Dealers Association.
“Always popular on Kauai are trucks and SUVs because of the families and the outdoor lifestyle,” said Mark Millikin, sales associate for Garden Island Auto Sales. “Also people are still looking for the economy car that’s gonna be reliable and save them fuel, because gas is still expensive here on the island compared to the rest of the nation.”
Year-to-date registrations for Toyota cars and light trucks through September reached more than 12,000 for nearly 27 percent of the statewide market share, according to the data. Honda took a distant second with nearly 17 percent of the market share statewide.
“The used car market is definitely still under pressure because the price of new cars these days,” Millikin said. “It’s always a better buy to look at a secondhand as opposed to new in the way of investment purposes.”
Hawaii’s five top-selling models for 2017 were the Chevrolet Silverado, Nissan Rogue, Toyota 4 Runner, Ford F Series and Honda Fit, according to IHS Markit.
“Imports, of course, are still popular as opposed to the domestics, which are trying to gain ground with their new designs,” Millikin said. “Toyota trucks are probably the most popular truck on the island if you look around, secondhand and new ones. But hopefully everyone else is trying to catch up with the technology too.”
New technologies are providing incentives for consumers to upgrade their vehicle. Advanced features that were once restricted to luxury vehicles are now commonplace, including mitigation braking, lane alert, smart cruise control, blind spot monitoring and rear-view cameras, according to Hawaii Auto Outlook’s study.
“When it comes to diesels, they like their Chevys, Dodges and Fords when it comes to hauling or towing or ranching,” Millikin said. “The Ford F-150 has done pretty well with their newer models in the way of price range.”
After a slight decrease in demand for hybrid/electric vehicles during 2015 and 2016, the statewide market share has increased to more than 6 percent in the third quarter of 2017, according to the recent data.
“People have been wanting to go more green with their vehicles,” Millikin said. “People who buy full-on electric ones are still trying to figure out their lifestyle, because it gets about 80 miles on a full charge. So if they go to Princeville, they’ve got to get some kind of charge there to get back.”
New retail registrations for electric vehicles in the state have also continued to slowly increase since 2011.
“The complaint is there’s not a lot of electric stations around the island yet for them,” Millikin said. “I think they could use some more, so people with electric cars will be able to plug in someplace as opposed to somebody’s house.”
“Hybrids seem to be doing a little better in the way of gas systems working together to charge batteries to run when the throttle’s off,” he added. “They seem to be a little more popular.”
Rising interest rates could lead to increasing monthly finance and lease payments, which can slow new vehicle sales.
“Financing has been terrific lately, better than it has been in years past,” Millikin said. “Availability has been tough out there, though. The market of new car sales are driving up the price of used car sales, because the new ones aren’t selling as much.
“They’re going after the used car market, so that generates a little more action at the auction.”