Cheap Gas Prices Bolster Houston-Area Vehicle Sales In January

Strong sales of SUVs indicate consumer confidence remains strong, despite oil sector layoffs.

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Houston-area auto dealers sold 27,591 vehicles in January, according to the latest numbers from the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. That marks an increase of 8.1 percent from December and 10.4 percent from January of last year.

“The truck/SUV segment overall increased, but it was the SUVs that did it,” says InfoNation president Steve McDowell, who analyzes the DMV numbers for TexAuto Facts. “Pickup trucks actually dropped market share slightly in January. So I think that was it. I think there’s still consumer confidence, and frankly, some extra spending money that comes out of the lower fuel prices.”

Combined truck and SUV sales rose by 15.1 percent, year over year. Auto sales increased by 4.2 percent over the same period.

“The other element in that is that the average retail sales price dropped for the first time since last August,” McDowell says. “That tells me that the sales that we’re seeing are down in the lower-priced market segment.”

Vehicle sales are benefitting from strong employment in the Houston region’s construction sector, tied to ongoing office and chemical plant construction. That’s bolstering consumer confidence for now, even as layoffs mount in oil exploration and energy services. 


Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media’s coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments across Greater Houston. Before taking up his current post, Andrew spent five years as Houston Public Media’s business reporter, covering the oil...

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