Local Car Dealers Predict Big Year for Sales in 2012

By: Alex Villarreal Email
By: Alex Villarreal Email

Some economists use car sales as a sort of a litmus test for how the economy is doing.
If you go by that standard, things are looking pretty good.
U.S. car sales went up in 2011 and auto industry experts are predicting sales will be even better in 2012.

Laura Lempke is 24 years old and just started working as a registered nurse.

"It's so awesome, just that feeling of, I legitimately am a grown up and an adult," said Lempke.

She's also living on her own for the first time.

Lempke added, "I feel comfortable and stable in my job and in my career, that I know...I can get a job."

She feels so confident, that she just bought her first new car.

New car sales are up considerably from the 30 year low they hit in 2009.
Unemployment rates were high and loan restrictions were tight.
Only 5.5 million new cars were sold, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Regardless of the economy, customers say there are three things that are always at the top of their shopping list; safety, reliability and dependability.

"All you have to do is press one button and I can verbally say "call mom" and it will call my mom," said Lempke. "I'm such a safer driver"

The Automotive News Data Center, shows in 2011, new car sales in the U.S. reached about 12.6 million--a 10% increase from 2010.

"We're seeing people now who probably a year, a year and a half ago wouldn't have qualified for an automobile, they do qualify for an automobile now and it's just from the lenders loosening up," said Paul Atkinson, with Atkinson Toyota.

Locally, the Bryan-College Station area saw an 8% increase with 533 new cars sold in November 2011 compared to 494 sold at that time in 2010.

Atkinson said, "People are coming in with cars with higher mileage than they've had before, but now people are either staring to have to or are either giving into buying the new automobile."

The numbers are expected to continue climbing in 2012 and Atkinson Toyota is preparing by adding more sales people.

"That snowball has now started and it has started at the top of the hill and it's starting to roll down. It's going to get bigger and bigger as 2012 goes," Atkinson said.

With new customers like Laura, dealers predict the trend to continue into 2013.

Lempke added, "This is one of the perks of being an adult and being grown up. There aren't many, but this is one of them."

The Center for Automotive Research predicts American automakers will add 167,000 jobs in the next three years.

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