Auto sales rev up after recession

FRESNO, California

According to the price tracking website TrueCar.com more than 12.8 million cars, trucks, and SUV's were sold in 2011. That's the highest annual total since 2008.

Dealers say the auto industry is on pace for a big rebound. This after the price-tracking website TrueCar.com released new numbers this week. They show this year's slow and steady recovery is expected to continue into next year.

Inside the showroom at Hedrick's Chevrolet in Clovis, you'll find something many dealers haven't seen in the last three years, a sales floor full of potential buyers.

General sales manager, Brett Hedrick said, "We've been up about 25% over 2010 and of course that's a good sign."

Brett Hedrick's says part of the reason is because the last 10 days of the year are typically the busiest as car lots clear out room for new product. "We've just about sold out of all 2011 models, because of 0% financing and high rebates."

But he also believes it's a sign of the times, as the economy makes a slow, but steady recovery. "Personally, I think we're getting slow growth back. You've seen some contractors go back to work, they're employing more people, they're getting more jobs and there's been a lot of other jobs happening here lately."

Right across the street, Future Ford is seeing a similar scenario just a couple of weeks after the dealership was damaged by a devastating fire in it's service area.

General Sales Manager Rich Wass says he's having a hard time keeping the new Ford Edge as well full and mid-sized pickups on the lot. "I think it's just attitude, but the average vehicle on the road right now is 10 years old so I think it's getting to the point where people want new cars."

Victor Palacios says he stopped by to trade in his 4 year old truck for his pool service in Madera and to take advantage of a year-end tax write-off for his business.

He ended up with a good deal and a positive outlook for next year's economy. But dealers say the industry still has a long way to go to get back to pre-recession sales - when the numbers hit 16.5 million back in 2006.

TrueCar.com expects total industry sales will increase to 13.8 million cars and trucks in 2012. Others, like J.D. Power and Associates and Edmunds.com put the numbers right about the same level.

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