2010 Proving to be a Better Year for Auto Industry

By: Tim Elliott Email
By: Tim Elliott Email

Last year, the federal Cash for Clunkers program provided an ailing auto industry with a much-needed boost.

Car sales won't be as strong this August but overall, things are looking up.

“We've actually had an increase in sales every month consistently now this year, we’re going in the right direction,”

Rob Lantrip is the General Sales Manager at Solomon Chevrolet in Dothan.

He believes consumer confidence in the auto industry is making a comeback.

“A lot of the uncertainty that was in the market a year ago is gone, so I think our customers are more comfortable than they were a year ago,” said Lantrip.

And last summer's Cash for Clunkers program was a huge help.

“The cash for clunkers program was very good, it put a shot in the arm in the car industry,” said Wayne Patterson of Toyota of Dothan.

Some dealers say while Cash for Clunkers definitely gave their business a boost, it also took some perfectly good used vehicles off the road.

”The idea behind it was that it was going to get cars off the road and replace them with vehicle that got better mileage, and it did that, but a lot of people could have used those cars for transportation,” added Lantrip.

On the national scale, sales in the month of August this year will pale in comparison to the same time last year. Some estimates have sales down 18 % industry-wide (in August 2010, compared to August 2009).

“Last august was probably one of the best months, single months the store has seen in a long time,” said Patterson.

Because Cash for Clunkers was so popular, it's hard to duplicate that kind of success.

“It skewed the business for a short time,” said Lantrip.

But dealers hope to keep the recent progress rolling.

“This year has been a huge improvement over last year, it's been the best overall year in a couple of years,” added Patterson.

Last summer's Cash for Clunkers program issued more than $2.8 billion dollars in rebates for nearly 680,000 new car sales.

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