The Times West Virginian

Business

December 22, 2008

Truck, SUV sales on the rise

(Continued)

CHARLESTON —

Lemmon notes that deals on pickups and SUVs are so attractive to buyers that they're difficult to pass up for smaller cars.

"We're seeing rebates of $6,000, $8,000 and $10,000," she said. "That can buy you a lot of gasoline."

Several dealers are anxious to move their 2008 models off the lot so they can concentrate on the 2009 inventory, Lemmon added.

Steve Moses, president of Moses Ford, said he began noticing the rise in truck and SUV sales last month.

Over the duration of the gas price explosion, dealers like Moses offered a slew of incentives on the larger, slower-selling vehicles. That approach is now paying off.

"You pay what a Ford factory worker would pay and get substantial, thousand-dollar rebates," Moses said.

Still, Moses called it an "unsettling year" for the auto industry and said sales, though rising among trucks and SUVs, aren't what they should be.

Roy Sexton, general manager at Turnpike Chevy, said dealers should expect low truck inventories in the future due to increased demand and production cuts.

Sexton also has reported a rise in truck sales at Turnpike Chevy, and he foresees a change in another six months, resulting in limited selections and scarce deals.

"Cars are going to be plentiful, because we're going to see a cutback on truck production," Sexton said. "As production and inventories get cut back, the big deals won't be there. If people aren't buying now, they're missing the boat."

Sexton said it was critical that consumers buy American cars to support the falling industry. He also noted that banks and financial institutions have made it difficult for some folks to get loans for car purchases these days.

"It's amazing how tight the lenders have gotten," he said. "It's a challenge. You (a borrower) were a good guy six months ago. Now you're not a good guy."

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