The used-vehicle market has cooled way down, as sales in that area are only up 3 percent in December and up 2 percent over the course of 2012.
"There is still a lot of pent-up demand from the economic downturn when people held onto their cars for much longer," Tim Jackson with the Colorado Automobile Dealer's Association said. "The average age of the fleet is now 11 years. Financing now is much easier and much more affordable. More people can get financing at a much better rate. So they're putting that extra money that their saving on the finance side and [are] buying the new vehicle instead of the used vehicle. We're seeing the best year in new-car sales in Colorado in over 50 years that we've tracked it."
So what can new-car buyers expect to see for the rest of 2013?
"Just last week, I was at the Detroit Auto Show, and 58 new models were introduced," Jackson said. "There are more power-source options, power-train options, drive-train options, more model options than ever before. It's really a great time to buy a new car, and there's more choices and much better fuel-economy today."
Colorado buyers are still focused on cars with great fuel economy.
"For 100 years, the industry was powered by just the gasoline-combustion engine, but now we have electrics, we have hybrids, we have plug-in hybrids, we have new clean diesels, [we have] compressed natural gas," Jackson said. "All three domestic manufacturers have compressed-natural gas or CNG-powered pickups, either in the showrooms or already in the showrooms. It's amazing because CNG is produced in Colorado. We're a net-exporting state for CNG. The governor is very big on CNG, and it's helping new-car sales."
Jackson says the industry is optimistic for the rest of 2013.
"We're still not back to the overall sales levels we were at in the record year of 2000 .... we're back at a 76 percentile level of the all-time high," Jackson said.