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Feb. Auto Sales Rise as Luxury Rebounds, Hyundai, Kia Fall

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Orange County auto sales appeared to return to normal historical pattens in February as sales rose 6% from a year earlier, according to an industry report.

Dealers here sold 5,849 new vehicles here last month, according to the Newport Beach-based Orange County Auto Dealers.

The figure is based on registrations with the state, a barometer of sales.

The monthly sales gain is among the best for local dealers in the past two years or so, which have seen the industry’s worst downturn since the early 1970s.

But February’s sales still were well below the 12,242 autos dealers here sold in February 2007.

Last month’s sales looked more like they traditionally have in the county, with luxury brands showing gains and the stars of the downturn—Hyundai and Kia—posting their first declines in a while.

Mercedes-Benz, the top luxury brand here, saw sales rise 8% to 411 autos last month. BMW, the No. 2 luxury brand here, was up 10% to 331.

At the same time, Hyundai was down 14% to 232 autos. Kia was down 51% to 46 autos.

The two brands have seen sales and market share gains in the past year as their affordable vehicles proved a good fit with the downturn.

Toyota’s woes also appear to have affected sales, but only slightly. The brand was down 3% to 1,138 autos sold here.

Honda and Volkswagen appear to be benefiting from Toyota’s slowdown. Honda was up 23% to 833 autos. Volkswagen was up 23% to 247 autos.

Toyota dealers sell the most autos in OC.

For domestic brands, Ford was up nearly 7% to 439 autos. General Motors was up nearly 9% 76 autos. Chrysler continued to struggle, down 54% to 25 autos.

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