More buying trucks as gas prices drop

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With summer's soaring fuel costs a faint memory, some local car dealers are seeing an increase in SUV and truck purchases from customers lured in by discounts and low gas prices.

Nancy Lavin, of Augusta, smiles for the camera Tuesday after purchasing a 2009 Honda CRV at Gerald Jones Honda. Trucks and SUVs are outselling cars for the first time since February.  Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
Nancy Lavin, of Augusta, smiles for the camera Tuesday after purchasing a 2009 Honda CRV at Gerald Jones Honda. Trucks and SUVs are outselling cars for the first time since February.

Nancy Lavin bought a 2009 Honda CR-V Tuesday, saying she needed a larger vehicle and the deals were unbeatable at Gerald Jones Honda.

"I probably would not have bought an SUV when gas was $4 a gallon," she said. "I think this was the right time to purchase it."

Gerald Jones General Manager Brian Winters said SUV and truck sales have increased 37 percent since September, when local gas prices were close to $4 a gallon.

Jessica Caldwell, an automobile industry analyst for edmunds.com, an auto consumer Web site, said business overall is still dismal -- sales of new vehicles in December were down 38.4 percent compared to December 2007 -- but truck and SUV sales have experienced an uptick nationwide.

SUV sales comprised 24.8 percent of all vehicles sold in August but dropped to 23.3 percent in October, shortly after gas prices reached their highest level nationally and locally, according to the Web site. In November, SUVs made up 25.9 percent of all vehicles sold.

Trucks and SUVs are outselling cars for the first time since February, Ms. Caldwell said. The larger vehicles are projected to comprise 51 percent of all vehicles sold in December, while cars will make up 49 percent.

Ms. Caldwell said lower gas prices and generous incentives are the main reasons for the increase in truck and SUV sales. That is good for dealers and manufacturers because the larger vehicles bring higher profits than other models, she added.

At Bobby Jones Ford Lincoln Mercury, truck and SUV sales dropped about 25 percent this summer but are now back to normal, said Jeff Broadwater, general sales manager.

"This is the best month we've had all year," Mr. Broadwater said of December sales. "We're excited to see the traffic come back in. I think the economy is coming back."

Adam Logeman, general manager of Gordon Chevrolet, said he has seen a similar trend at his dealership. Heavy truck and SUV sales have risen 50 percent since November, he said.

Customers are also buying more because credit is available, Mr. Logeman said.

"There was undoubtedly a credit tightening over the last eight to 12 months," he said. "Lenders are beginning to loosen up, which makes customers have an easier time getting a loan."

Ms. Caldwell said she expects sales to soon slow because January is typically a rough month for the industry.

"In the spring, we're hoping for more of a recovery," she said. "That's when we'll know whether it's going to be a better year or not."

Reach Stephanie Toone at (706) 823-3215 or stephanie.toone@augustachronicle.com.

SALES ARE UP

Percentage of all vehicles sold since May:

MONTH - TRUCKS - SUVS

May - 12.4% - 21.9%

June - 12.3% - 22.3%

July - 14.4% - 22.1%

Aug. - 16.4% - 24.8%

Sept. - 16.5% - 23.9%

Oct. - 16.0% - 23.3%

Nov. - 16.5% - 25.9%

Source: edmunds.com

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patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 01/01/09 - 01:31 am
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When gas prices were high,

When gas prices were high, the uninformed screamed at the top of their lungs that it was Bush's fault. Now that prices are down, a deathly silence lays over the land. And people wonder why everyone thinks Dems are just dumb.

Captain Obvious
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Captain Obvious 01/01/09 - 01:50 am
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Just wait until next summer.

Just wait until next summer. Gas prices go up again and everyone panics and rushes to the little cars...

humbleopinion
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humbleopinion 01/01/09 - 02:39 am
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Yeah, and they will STILL

Yeah, and they will STILL blame Bush for gas prices going back up.

GGpap
528
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GGpap 01/01/09 - 06:17 am
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Patricia, the rapid descent

Patricia, the rapid descent in energy costs might be because the energy people and the Bush people see the handwriting on the wall. With the upcoming change in our political administration, and with the democrats in near control of both houses on January 5, there could be a compete investigation into why the energy folks were able to manipulate the rampant escalation of energy costs, without significant interference from our political leaders, for the last 8 years. The culprits could just be playing games in order to avoid a deeper probe into their past activities. Granted, I am only offering a supposition, but has anyone yet discovered what was talked about at the meeting Cheney held with the top heads of energy shortly after Bush took office in 2002? As concerns the increase in sales of truck and SUV's over the past month, it only proves the age old saying that American citizens are surely afflicted with short-term memory. I certainly am not optimistic about the price of fuel remaining as low as it is for much longer. Lobbyists are probably working 24-7 right this moment preparing to "educate" our new batch of "people's servants" about the political "facts of life." GGpap.

White_Trash1
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White_Trash1 01/01/09 - 06:41 am
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Way to go people. I thought

Way to go people. I thought the best way to keep prices down was to lower demand. Keep buying gas hogs, but don't complain when the price goes back up.

politicallyNcorrect1
0
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politicallyNcorrect1 01/01/09 - 06:52 am
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Can we say Jump the Gun? Even

Can we say Jump the Gun? Even Obama said, it's going to get worst...before it get's better! But...who knows this lady might be one who does not have to worry about gas prices because she's also got a great job & does not have to worry about that either. But as sure as the sun is coming up today, there will be people who will run out & purchase a vehicle they can't afford. The banks has just lowered the credit scores that it takes to quafily for a auto loan & this surely means people with new car eyes will be packing them in!!!

politicallyNcorrect1
0
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politicallyNcorrect1 01/01/09 - 06:55 am
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See... even our White Trash

See... even our White Trash knows better....lol just adding some humor.:)

55 F-100
1
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55 F-100 01/01/09 - 07:02 am
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When gas prices soared, and

When gas prices soared, and supply was low, we as a people voiced our outrage. We demanded that the U.S.A. open up off shore sites, protected regions of Alaska, and we demanded that n ew refineries be built in the U.S.A. We suggested that closed down military sites be used as storage facilities. The petroleum cartel found that the breaking point for the U.S.A. citizen is $4.00 per gallon, and the prices began to fall steadily. The reason being is that they FEAR that the U.S.A. would take actions (long overdue) to become self-sufficient pertaining to oil/gasoline. Think about it...there is absolutely no mention of new drilling, new refineries, etc., and there will be none unless/until gas prices start approaching a "breaking point" again.

karmakills123
8
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karmakills123 01/01/09 - 09:09 am
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folks who buy and drive big

folks who buy and drive big "look at me" vehicles are brain-dead....the price will rise again you morons......sheesh

Double D
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Double D 01/01/09 - 09:44 am
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I know a girl in the Army

I know a girl in the Army that still talks about buying an H2! Yeah, we're really overpaid in the military. I will say that we do a good job with the bonus money and special duty pay for critical skill jobs, because they do deserve more for their skills. Otherwise they'd continue to jump ship for the 6 figure civilian equivilent of their position. I know too many military with 2 cars, RVs, Motorcycles, etc. Yet they complain we don't get paid enough. $40K+ is plenty for an uneducated 0 experience 18 year old.

ZenoElia
1
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ZenoElia 01/01/09 - 10:32 am
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Must be time for me to

Must be time for me to upgrade my fleet.

Captain Obvious
0
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Captain Obvious 01/01/09 - 11:35 am
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GGpap, gas prices have gone

GGpap, gas prices have gone up every summer since I can remember. It's a speculatory market, like the stock market. People who do Not Drill gas "buy" the gas and "sell" it to other "buyers" who "sell" it to the companies that actually bring it to the refineries who...

----Basically it's complicated. It's been going on a lot longer than Bush was in office.

WW1949
19
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WW1949 01/01/09 - 12:26 pm
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Karma, I drive a big SUV and

Karma, I drive a big SUV and am not brain dead. I have to have the room for samples of materials that I sell and a comfortable car to drive (40000.00 per yr prox). A small car just will not work. $4.00 per gal gas is a big price to pay but I can afford it.

ITDoc
1
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ITDoc 01/01/09 - 12:50 pm
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Karma: I also must use a full

Karma: I also must use a full size pickup for work. $4 a gal gas caused my customers to pay more for my services. I agree those who don't need that size are wasting resources for all of us, but once again, stereotyping is NEVER a good idea. There are far too many exceptions to the rule.

Captain Obvious
0
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Captain Obvious 01/01/09 - 07:09 pm
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A MINIVAN has much more space

A MINIVAN has much more space and gets better gas mileage than most SUVs (except Hybrids, which cost so much more you'd have to drive a LOT to makeup the difference.) --- Hope the "cool" factor is worth it.. (Apologies to the 5% that actually drive their SUV offroad.)

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