Area car dealers happy ’09 is over

By Don Shilling

New-vehicle sales in the Valley were off 37 percent last year.

Last year ended much like it began for area car dealers — with slow sales.

“Good riddance,” car dealer Greg Greenwood said when asked about 2009.

The Automobile Dealers Association of Eastern Ohio said Wednesday that local dealers sold 1,181 new vehicles last month, down 12 percent from the 1,344 sold in December 2008.

New-vehicle sales in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties were down every month last year.

In 2009, dealers sold 17,276 new vehicles, which was down 37 percent from the 27,357 that were sold the year before.

“It was a tumultuous year,” said Steve Chos, executive vice president of the dealers association.

Vehicle sales in the Valley topped 30,000 a year earlier in the decade.

Greenwood, who owns Chevrolet dealerships in Austintown and Hubbard, said a slow economy mixed with the bankruptcies of General Motors and Chrysler made last year especially tough.

Local Chevrolet dealers also were hurt last year because the Trailblazer was discontinued, Greenwood said. The model had strong sales locally.

Greenwood said he thinks that the Valley’s economy still will be challenged in 2010 but that it is stabilizing. He said a steady, but still uncertain, economy is good for his dealership because many buyers will opt for a Chevrolet rather than choosing a more- expensive vehicle.

Chos said dealers also are expecting credit markets to loosen up, which will allow more people to buy cars.

“We are confident that 2010 will be better than last year,” he said.

Greenwood said his forecast calls for a 30 percent increase in new-vehicle sales this year.

Greenwood Chevrolet Hummer in Austintown led all Valley dealers in new-vehicle sales last year. The dealership sold 991 new vehicles last year, down from 1,743 in 2008.

Used-vehicle sales also were down in the Valley last year.

Dealers sold 39,526 used vehicles, which was down 10 percent from the 43,952 that were sold in 2008.

Greenwood Chevrolet Hummer also was the area’s top seller of used vehicles, with 1,110 sales last year.

In December, area dealers sold 2,575 used vehicles, which was down from 3,057 in the same month of 2008.

>New vehicles

In demand

Top-selling new vehicles in the Mahoning Valley in 2009:

1. Chevrolet Malibu: 900

2. Chevrolet Cobalt: 785

3. Chevrolet Impala: 667

4. Pontiac G6: 517

5. Chevrolet Silverado 1500: 506

Source: Automobile Dealers Association of Eastern Ohio

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