Low gas prices and favorable market conditions helped new car sales in Minnesota rise 4.6 percent last year – driven by an increase in people buying new trucks and SUVs.
Dealership figures published by the Minnesota Automobile Dealers Association (MADA) show "light truck" sales were responsible for the boost to dealerships, rising by 12 percent in 2014, while car sales dropped by 6.1 percent.
In total, Minnesotan dealerships sold 214,075 new vehicles last year, up from 204,590 in 2013, which MADA put down to a combination of low interest rates and mild inflation growth keeping cars affordable. Meanwhile a fall in unemployment, an increase in wages, and low gas prices have put more money in consumers' pockets.
Pickups and SUVs are king in Minnesota, with 135,839 sold last year. Car sales suffered at their expense with only 78,236 sold. Demand for hybrid and electric vehicles also dropped, falling from 6,677 new sales in 2013 to 5,608 last year.
It was a good year for American carmakers in Minnesota, with domestic brand sales rising 5.7 percent, while Japanese brands rose by 7.9 percent. In contrast, sales of European and Korean models fell by 6.6 and 8.3 percent, respectively.
Why are trucks outstripping cars?
The Star Tribune reports the rise in light truck sales reflects a national trend – with SUVs and trucks helping U.S. auto sales to a 4.6 percent gain in April, with several companies reporting their strongest April sales ever.
This has been put down, the newspaper says, to a generation of "stylish and practical" SUVs that are pulling people away from cars, forcing companies to discount sedans and even reduce production.
And MADA says advances in car and truck technology over the past decade is encouraging people back into the market for upgrades, saying: "Greatly improved safety, fuel economy, performance, and technology in today's cars and trucks provides a powerful motivation for consumers to enter the new vehicle market."
"The average 10-year-old, 2005 model year vehicle can't even come close to a new, 2015 model," MADA notes.
Minnesota's most popular
The top five light truck models were:
1. Ford F Series – 12,981 sold.
2. Chevrolet Silverado – 12,847 sold.
3. Dodge Ram – 7,572 sold.
4. Ford Escape – 6,840 sold.
5. Honda CR-V – 6,654 sold.
The top five car models were:
1. Toyota Camry – 5,018 sold.
2. Ford Fusion – 4,444 sold.
3. Subaru Outback – 4,186 sold.
4. Ford Focus – 3,838 sold.
5. Honda Accord – 3,755 sold.