Local car dealers see sales jump
By Cindy Wojdyla Cain firstname.lastname@example.org January 3, 2013 11:00PM
Guy Campbasso, General Manager at D'Arcy Hyundi stands in front of the dealerships best selling model, the Sonata, in Joliet, Illinois, Friday, December 28, 2012. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun Times Media
Updated: February 5, 2013 6:11AM
Local car sales finally revved up in 2012 after languishing since late 2008.
Terry D’Arcy, owner of three Joliet dealerships, said he could feel the momentum shifting in the past couple of years. That’s why he took a chance and bought the old Saturn dealership on West Jefferson Street when it closed.
He remodeled the building and converted it into a stand-alone dealership for his Volkswagen line, which had been combined with his Hyundai dealership. The new site opened in March.
The gamble paid off. D’Arcy said his Volkswagen sales doubled this year compared to last year.
Total sales at his Volkswagen, Hyundai and GMC-Buick dealerships increased by 1,000 units from 4,000 during the worst of the recession to 5,000 in 2012.
“We had a very good 2012,” D’Arcy said. “It was probably the best year since 2008.”
People were hanging onto their cars during the economic downturn, but now they’re ready to trade up to newer cars that are better quality, have more safety features and are more fuel efficient, D’Arcy said.
Many trade-ins had 150,000 to 200,000 miles on them, so people were ready to buy, he added.
“It’s just time to get into something newer,” he said. “People get tired of looking at the same dashboard after 10 years.”
D’Arcy said his top-selling brand is Hyundai and that line’s Sonata is the hottest car he has. Compact sport utility vehicles also are popular with buyers including the Buick Encore, the Honda CRV and the Hyundai Tucson.
Brad Wise, general manger of Bill Jacobs Joliet, also has seen a spike in sales in 2012. The company’s Chevrolet, Cadillac, Mazda, Subaru, Kia and Mitsubishi dealerships sold about 4,000 vehicles in 2012, which is closer to pre-recession levels. The Chevy Silverado is the top seller at Bill Jacobs Joliet. Wise said the company was close to breaking a state sales record for the pickup in December.
In addition to pent-up demand, Wise said he believes banks are now more willing to work with car loan customers than they have been in the past few years.
“The banks want to help us put deals together,” he said. “They need the business, too.”
While things are looking up, Wise said there is still a lot of room for growth. If the unemployment rate continues to drop and home values rise, that will help boost car sales even more in 2013, he said. And Wise said car salespeople everywhere would like to see the average age of vehicles on the road start to drop from the current all-time high of 11 years.
“If that’s what you do for a living, you don’t want to see people hold onto their cars,” he said.