Northeast Ohio car dealers expect 2013 will finish as the best sales year since the depths of the Great Recession.
November sales in the region outpaced a year ago — and sales since Jan. 1 are doing much better than the same period in 2012.
“All of our locations are up. We are tracking for a record year for our organization,” said Jerry VanDevere, whose family-owned franchises in Akron include Kia, Buick and Chevrolet.
“Banking is a big piece of the growth,” VanDevere said. Interest rates remain low and banks are increasingly willing to loan money to people with less-than-stellar credit but who are still able to make payments. “There’s more money available.”
Michelle Primm, managing partner with her two brothers at Cascade Auto Group in Cuyahoga Falls, also said 2013 is shaping up well.
“This has been a good year for the car business, just about across the board,” Primm said. “The banks have loosened up. That absolutely helps.”
Leasing is increasingly more available as well, she said.
In addition, new cars are exciting and have features that customers want and value, she said.
“Great gas mileage is coming through good technology and not gimmicks,” Primm said.
Cascade Auto Groups sales this year surpassed their 2012 total just a couple of weeks ago, Primm said. The dealership has Mazda, Subaru and Audi franchises.
“This has been our 10th year in a row for a record,” Primm said. She attributed the ongoing increases to Cascade’s focus on being family friendly and customers wanting to do repeat business.
The Greater Cleveland Automobile Dealers’ Association reported that sales in a 21-county area climbed for the 11th month in a row.
New vehicle sales in November totaled 15,939, up from 15,498 in November 2012. Those numbers are far above the low for recent November vehicle sales, which bottomed at 9,895 in 2009.
Sales since Jan. 1 total 212,886, up 10.2 percent from 193,237 for the same period a year ago.
“With the manufacturers’ year-end incentives and holiday sales events, along with continued promotions from dealers in this month, we’re confident we will see double-digit growth when comparing 2013 with 2012 at the end of the year,” Lou Vitantonio, president of the Cleveland Auto Dealers’ Association, said in a statement.
Local sales increase
New and used vehicle sales in Summit County also continued to rise, according to figures from the Akron-based Northeast Ohio Automobile Dealers Association.
November new vehicle sales in the county totaled 1,664, up 2.8 percent from 1,618 a year ago. Sales since Jan. 1 were at 21,982, up 9.5 percent from 20,073 for the same period in 2012.
Used vehicle sales in Summit County for November were at 2,586, up 3.2 percent from 2,507 in November 2012. Since Jan. 1, used vehicle sales totaled 32,117, up 6.6 percent from 30,133 from the same period a year ago.
Terry Metcalf, executive vice president of the Northeast Ohio dealers group, said the dealers that make up his organization are happy about 2013 sales figures. The year should be the best in at least four to five years, he said.
“It seems to be on track,” Metcalf said. “Things have certainly turned around. People are pretty optimistic for next year.”
Dealers have voiced concerns over what appears to be a still-fragile economy and whether rising health-care costs will take away from disposable income, he said.
Demand for new vehicles
The most important trend dealers are seeing is the attractiveness of new vehicle purchases versus used vehicles, Metcalf said.
“The trend has been new cars. Used cars have tapered off,” he said.
The change is in part because of more financing options available for new vehicles, including the return of leasing, and the higher cost of used vehicles because of limited availability, Metcalf said.
Another positive sign for the area economy is that dealers are expanding and renovating their businesses, he said.
The VanDevere dealerships recently spent $1.6 million to upgrade their Buick and Chevrolet sites.
The Kia dealership will be upgraded in 2014, including a larger showroom and new service bays, said Jerry VanDevere.
Kia sales continue to do exceptionally well, he said.
“It’s been a good product for us,” he said, “a volume vehicle.”
Jim Mackinnon can be reached at 330-996-3544 or firstname.lastname@example.org