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New-car sales in region are up by 13%

Local new-car sales increased by 13 percent in May from a year ago, bolstered by a number of brands showing gains from May 2011.

Franchised new-car dealers sold 4,805 cars and trucks during the month, the Niagara Frontier Automobile Dealers Association said. It was their second-best sales performance of the year.

Of the Top 10 brands reporting figures, seven had increases from a year ago, one was unchanged, and two declined, according to NFADA data. (Major seller Chevrolet does not disclose sales figures.)

Paul Stasiak, the NFADA's president, said that some automakers offered strong leasing incentives in May, which is appealing to customers in the Buffalo Niagara region, a strong market for leasing.

Ford's 14 dealers in the area reported an 18 percent increase from a year ago, to 1,257 units, for the brand's best individual sales month since March 2011.

Hyundai also ranked among the top sellers. Its four area dealers reported a 2 percent increase in sales from a year ago; it was the first month Hyundai's local sales topped 300 units since May 2011.

Toyota's sales increased by 99 percent over May 2011, and Honda's were up by 35 percent. A year ago, both automakers were coping with inventory shortages stemming from the Japan earthquake and tsunami, which pushed their May 2011 sales figures abnormally low.

Through the first five months, local auto sales this year were up by 2.4 percent from the same period a year ago, to 21,411 units. Sales have been higher than a year ago in three of the five months of 2012.

"Dealers are very comfortable," Stasiak said. "Saleswise, I think you are seeing some sales lines doing better than others and doing a little better than last year."

Halfway through June, Stasiak said, showroom activity this month "has been steady," while used-car sales are off a bit.

The National Automobile Dealers Association recently reported that employment at U.S. new car and truck dealerships increased by 4.6 percent in 2011 from a year earlier. And in the first quarter of this year, there was an increase of 66 dealerships on a net basis.

The NADA said the numbers indicate the industry is continuing to stabilize.