By Kristen Russo
Car dealerships in the Mahoning Valley saw a 94 percent increase in February new-car sales compared with sales in the same month a year ago.
In February 2011, Valley dealerships sold 1,880 new vehicles, according to numbers released by the Automobile Dealers Association of Eastern Ohio.
The same dealers sold 969 new vehicles in February 2010.
Sweeney Chevrolet in Boardman tops the list with the most new vehicles sold last month. The dealership sold 167 new vehicles in February 2011.
It sold 79 new vehicles in February 2010, an increase of about 111 percent.
Anthony Garono, sales manager at Sweeney Chevrolet, said the Chevy Malibu was the dealership’s biggest seller last month, with the Lordstown-built Cruze following behind.
According to the ADAEO, Sweeney Chevrolet sold 78 Malibus and 34 Cruzes last month.
“As our numbers show, the month was phenomenal,” Garono said.
Garono credits the popularity of leasing and incentive programs with the dealership’s spike in new-car sales.
He said the $1,000 GM Owner Loyalty cash rebate, available to repeat General Motors customers, was redeemable on lease- supported vehicles.
Many customers also took advantage of the GM Lease Pull Ahead program, he said.
Under the Lease Pull Ahead program, customers who had six months or less on their lease terms could trade in for a lease on a new vehicle, said Tom Cole, co-owner of Cole Valley Motor Co. in Warren and Cole Valley Chevrolet in Newton Falls.
Cole said the Lease Pull Ahead program was popular among customers at his dealership as well.
Garono said both programs ended Feb. 28.
Cole Valley Motor Co., a Cadillac dealership, saw the highest percentage of change over February 2010 with about 683 percent more new vehicles sold last month.
The dealership sold 47 new vehicles in February 2011. In February 2010, it sold six.
The Cadillac CTS was February’s biggest seller at Cole Valley Motor Co. According to the ADAEO, the dealership sold 30 CTS models last month.
Like Garono, Cole also said sales were spurred by leasing programs.
“[Sales were] beyond expectation,” Cole said. “I think the business going forward is going to stay strong going into the spring market and into the summer.”
Cole’s Chevrolet dealership saw a 370 percent increase in new vehicles sold in February 2011 compared with February 2010.
The dealership sold 47 new cars last month, compared with 10 new cars in the same month last year.
With 22 models sold, the Malibu was also Cole Valley Chevrolet’s best-selling vehicle last month, according to the ADAEO.
Though Grand Ford in East Liverpool sold the fewest new vehicles, according to the ADAEO’s numbers, it still saw a 20 percent increase over sales a year ago.
The dealership sold six new vehicles in February 2011, compared with five new vehicles in February 2010.
Robert Migliore, sales manager at Grand Ford, attributes the increase in new-car sales to better weather compared with February of last year.