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Prize drawing caps annual four-day event at Oregon Convnetion Center as vehicle sales continue to increase in the state.

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP - Gresham resident William Gustafson, middle, is congratulated by Tim Strutz after Gustafson won a Volkswagen Tiguan at the 2018 Portland International Auto Show. They were among four finalists in a drawing to win the car. At right is Greg Remensperger of Metro Portland New Car Dealers Association.Gresham resident William Gustafson was speechless Sunday afternoon after the key fob he held in his hand unlocked the doors to a brand-new Volkswagen Tiguan.

Gustafson was one of four finalists in a drawing to win the car, which was given away as part of the 2018 Portland International Auto Show. Greg Remensperger, executive vice president of the Metropolitan Portland New Car Dealers Association, pronounced Gustafson the winner after he tested the fob and found it was a match for the Tiguan.

The car giveaway was sponsored by the dealer association in partnership with the Pamplin Media Group, media sponsor of the show. Show attendees entered the drawing during the four-day run of the auto show. The names of four finalists were drawn, and each was given a key fob to try to unlock the car. Whoever had the correct key was the winner.

The other three finalists — Tim Strutz, who lives on the border of Portland and Gresham, Joe Benson of Northeast Portland and Christopher Patton of Salem — all received consolation prizes.

After overcoming his initial shock, Gustafson said, now that he has new wheels, he would convert his old vehicle to a "dog transportation car" for his pet Great Pyrenees. Gustafson said he'd pick up the car from Herzog-Meier Volkswagen this week.

The auto show ran Jan. 24-28 at the Oregon Convention Center. The dealer association, which produces the event, does not release official attendance figures. But Jeff Fishback, the association's auto show director, said this year's Sneak Peek Charity Party that preceded the show opening appears to be the most successful yet.

The association had plenty of other reasons to be happy by the time the auto show ended. Not only had thousands of potential buyers showed up, but the most recent new-vehicle sales figures are encouraging. Although total sales dropped slightly across the country last year, they increased in Oregon, suggesting they could continue to do so in 2018.

After seven years of steady growth, national sales peaked at 17.5 million vehicles in 2016 and declined slightly to 17.2 million in 2017, according to estimates in Auto Outlook Inc., published on behalf of the Oregon Automobile Dealers Association.

But in Oregon, sales grew from 77,661 in 2010 to 148,699 in 2016 — then increased again to 155,023 new vehicles in 2017. Even if the market cools, sales this year are still expected to easily surpass the 2016 total.

"There is still a lot of pent-up demand to be met in Oregon," says Remensperger.

And in keeping with Oregon's green reputation, sales of electrified vehicles were well above the national rate in 2017. While national sales of hybrid and electric cars and trucks increased 4.3 percent in 2017, they jumped by 9.5 percent during the first 11 months of last year in the state — more than twice the increase in the total country.

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