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Greater Houston Vehicle Sales Remain Low, Expected To Pick Up In Mid-2017

Industry prefers higher gas prices over sluggish economy

Greater Houston auto dealers sold 22,660 new vehicles in November.

Greater Houston auto dealers sold 22,660 new vehicles last month, a drop of 7.6 percent from a year ago and 10.2 percent from October.

Steve McDowell, who publishes TexAuto Facts for InfoNation in Sugar Land, said vehicle sales are still in a valley that started 14 months ago.

“And I believe we’re going to stay there for probably another six months or so. I don’t see us making any significant move up and I don’t see us falling off the cliff.”

What’s tricky is that thanks to stabilizing oil prices, Houston’s economy is improving, which should be good news for sales. But of course, it also means gas will become more expensive and that usually has a negative effect on the auto industry.

Given the choice, McDowell would rather take higher gas prices.

“As more people are employed and wages go up, even the people who already have a job, it improves their confidence,” he said. “They feel more confident about making a big ticket purchase.”

When you drill down a bit, the figures show that retail sales of vehicles are actually little changed from a year ago.

But it’s the fleet sales of vehicles to companies that dropped and pulled down the overall numbers. 

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Florian Martin

Florian Martin

Business Reporter

Florian Martin is currently the News 88.7 business reporter. Florian’s stories can frequently be heard on other public radio stations throughout Texas and on NPR nationwide. Some of them have earned him awards from Texas AP Broadcasters, the Houston Press Club, National Association of Real Estate Editors, and Public Radio...

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