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National car sales increase, local dealerships report good numbers

By Scott Zoltan, KECI Reporter, szoltan@keci.com
Published On: Jan 03 2014 11:25:31 PM MST

Auto industry insiders report vehicle sales are the best they’ve been in 6 years. The industry sold 15 million vehicles in 2013. It’s the first time sales have been that high since 2007.

Toyota and GM reported a slow December, but their full-year sales saw boosts. Both companies reported 2013 sales increases of 7 percent over 2012. Toyota estimates sales will increase in 2014 also. 

Ford’s U.S. sales shot up by 11 percent, and achieved what is likely the biggest market share gain of the domestic vehicle makers. Chrysler’s sales were up 9 percent.

December was rough for many automakers. Experts say bad weather had an impact, as well as stronger deals in November, which would have traditionally occurred at the end of the year. However, it didn’t hit hard enough to derail the good full-year sales.

Throughout the industry, sales were up 11 percent. Experts say possible factors include improvements in the stock market as well as lower unemployment numbers. That means some Americans are more confident and have more income to spend on new vehicles.

NBC Montana visited a Missoula dealership to see if workers are experiencing the same trends. General Manager Jason Nordberg tells NBC Montana that sales of new vehicles are up 14 percent over 2012.  That’s the largest increase they’ve seen in 6 years. Their new sales were up 10 percent in 2012 over 2011, and 8 percent in 2011 over 2010.

“It’s great news. We’re seeing a lot of customers coming back into the market who have been out of the market for a few years. We’re seeing some familiar faces so it’s good to see,” said Nordberg. “2009 and 2010 were definitely low points; our volume was off along with everybody in the nation. It’s coming back quite strongly.”

Nordberg says sales of passenger cars have been on the rise at the dealership, and people have also started buying sports cars again. Camaro and Corvettes are typically extra cars for drivers, and people had largely been holding off on spending the extra money in recent years. Now, they’re buying them up again.

“People [are] feeling good about the economy, then these are picking back up,” said Nordberg.

The dealership has also made new hires in the last 6 years, and started carrying new brands.