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New car sales in Monroe County drop to lowest mark since 2011

Car showroom with an empty table group of chairs.
Adobe Stock
New car sales dropped 12% in 2022, hitting the lowest mark since 2011.

New car dealers in Monroe County are coming off their worst sales year in more than a decade.

Supply chain issues are getting sorted out, and inventories are growing. But Brad McAreavy with the Rochester Automobile Dealers Association expects a slow rebound.

"You know as you drive around, and you look at dealerships lots right now it's going to look better than it did a year or two ago,” he said. “But it's not going to look like it did three or four years ago.”

Monroe County saw a 12% drop in sales last year, to 39,900.

“You know, it hasn't been that low since 2011,” McAreavy said, “which would have been post financial meltdown.”

Now it’s the pandemic, supply chain disruptions, the microchip shortage. McAreavy describes a slow road back. All this is complicating the shift to electric vehicles. Sales of EVs were down even more locally, based on the number of rebates issued, while increasing statewide.

“The SUV-CUV market is probably the biggest growing segment of the auto market, and has been for quite some time,” McAreavy said, referring to Sports Utility and Crossover Utility Vehicles. "Where the EV world I think gets a little interesting is we're only now seeing truck options coming into the market.”

Dominating that SUV and truck market is seen as crucial to the growth of General Motors, which has operations here in Rochester.

But Gerald Johnson, GM’s executive vice president of Global Manufacturing and Sustainability, says all the disruption has made demand difficult to read.

Because there wasn't, quite frankly, enough supply,” he said. “We expect most of that to heal up this year. But maybe not all, there still will be some supply chain limitations and restrictions that we'll work through.”

GM is projecting incremental growth in EV sales this year. Forecasts show sales of EVs equaling those of gas-powered vehicles by 2030 – maybe – signaling a long road still ahead on that transition.

Brian Sharp is WXXI's business and development reporter. He has been covering Rochester since 2005, working most of that time as an investigative reporter with the Democrat and Chronicle. His journalism career spans nearly three decades.