Valley car dealers say sales picking up

January 4, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
The auto industry is seeing a spike in sales after taking a hit during the recession.

Business at Hedrick's Chevrolet is picking up more than three years after the Federal Government's $62 billion auto-industry bailout. The dealership is seeing their best sales since the start of the recession. "We all feed off each other in the Valley. If the farmers are doing better, if the contractors are doing better then of course the auto business is going to do better," said Brett Hedrick.

Manufacturers nationwide announced their final numbers for 2012 totaled 14.5 million vehicles. That's up 13% from the year before.

In December, Hedrick's family-owned business sold 145 cars. Hedrick said that's the highest number rolled out of the lot in five years. But before the recession he wouldn't have considered that a stellar sales month. "That was an average month. Some months we'd see, 175. December would probably be closer top 200," said Hedrick.

He and others in the industry are happy to see more people employed with the cash flow to buy new rides. Customers like Al DeLuca bought his car last year after hanging onto his vehicle for years. According to LMC Automotive, a Detroit-area industry forecasting firm, the average age of a car topped 11 years in the U.S. compared to about a 4 year turnover before 2008. "I had my pickup for 8 years now and it used to be 4 or 5 and it was gone. I think maybe people are getting smarter with their money," said DeLuca.

High-end dealerships like Mercedes-Benz also saw a spike in year-end sales and leasing. Local dealerships are hoping for better profits in 2013. But, they're relieved with last year's figures after a five year slump.