Archived Story

Local dealerships see increase in new car sales

Published 11:07am Thursday, July 18, 2013

New car sales were on the rise across the country in the month of June, signaling improvement from lower sale numbers over the last several years. In Fergus Falls, the lots are hot as well.

“Oh, it’s been the same here,” said Steve Weber, general sales manager at Quality Toyota. “We noticed a big jump in business when summer hit.”

Ford saw a 14 percent increase in sales in the month of June. Chrysler reported a gain of 8 percent and GM saw a 6.5 percent gain over the month, according to a report in the Fargo Forum.

At Quality Toyota, new car sales in the month of June were up 30 percent from a year ago. Year-to-date sales were also up 20 percent, according to Weber.

For Weber, new vehicles styles for cars like the Prius, which was expanded to three different sizes, fueled the increase. A growing economy that supports financing and buyers getting out after a long winter are major factors as well.

“Toyota has a really strong lease option on core vehicles,” Weber said. “Because of incentives and the product, that’s part of the reason for all the sales that have happened this spring.”

Across town at Minnesota Motor, sales of new cars have stayed steady through the dip that other parts of the country saw over the last few years, according to Barry Lindblom, the new car sales manager at the dealership.

“We haven’t seen that much of it actually,” Lindblom said. “Maybe in the last few months there’s been a little bit, but this market didn’t suffer as much. We didn’t have new cars too far off course.”

Typically, Minnesota Motor sells two used cars to every one new vehicle that leaves the lot, according to Lindblom. While there has been some increase in the ratio towards new vehicles, it hasn’t been substantial for the dealership.

The month of July has continued the trend as well, according to Weber, and the dealership expects strong sale numbers to continue as customers are active and out of the house.

Another trend across the country and in the area, consumers are showing less of a concern over fuel economy, even as gas prices start to rise again. While higher prices helped promote high-gas-mileage cars like the Prius, the trend isn’t as strong as it was. That means more trucks have made their way off lots as well.

“It’s a concern, but not as much as when gas was at $4 a gallon,” Weber said. “But with the way gas is fluctuating, when it jumps 20 cents in a week, there’s concern over the possibility.”

Lindblom credits the strong local economy in Fergus Falls as keeping sales up as they rise and fall across the country.

That local economy has kept sales strong at Nelson Auto Center as well, according to Scott Tietz, general manager at the dealership.

“It’s been pretty much across our manufacturers,” Tietz said. “Some divisions are a little strong than others. Even in our used department we’re up in volume as well.”

The steady numbers stretch back for several months, according to Tietz, but the dealership has also noticed a recent spike as well.

“We’ve had an upward trend since last October and definitely saw an upward trend in February,” Tietz said. “We don’t see the spikes like the rest of the country. It’s kind of like our terrain, the gently rolling hills.”

For the Nelson dealership, pickup trucks used on farms and in the agricultural industry have been one of their best sellers for some time. A good year agriculturally has fueled sales since last year, and Tietz said he is hopeful that will continue with another good year.

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