Jul 08, 2008 Ami Olson Uncategorized
Sales of SUVs and greedy gas-guzzling models have dropped dramatically in recent months, as motorists scramble for the most efficient cars available. But as auto manufacturers close plants across the country and assembly lines come to a screeching halt, the future of the small car dealership looks bright.
Chris Quill, general manager of Pete Kitt’s Automotive Sales and Service in Camillus, is responsible for all the dealerships buying, attending different auctions five nights a week to purchase vehicles.
Quill explained that the book value of available models have not caught up with reality, marking smaller, efficient cars of much less value then the monstrous SUVs.
“Throw the books away,” advised Quill. But, he points out, the disconnect between consumer demand for smaller vehicles and the listed value can help buyers.
Potential buyers applying for an auto loan have an advantage in the revaluation of vehicles, as applications are judged on the amount borrowed in relation to the value of the vehicle.
“We call them equity mobiles,” Quill laughed.
Pete Kitt’s recently opened a second location in Camillus — not exactly a sign of a struggling business.
In Solvay, Carl Webster has been selling cars for 25 years, and sees no signs of slowing business.
But, he said, car buyers should be wary of what they are buying – just because the fuel economy is great, does not mean the car will save drivers money in the long run.
“People have lost their sense of what they want, they just want,” Webster said.
He said early in 2008, when fuel surpassed the $3.50 per gallon mark, is when the “craziness” occurred.
He agrees that the dramatic trend of dumping SUVs for more efficient vehicles is creating a fluctuation in the market, and passenger cars recently considered less desirable are in high demand.
Webster pointed out one customer who had been driving a pickup truck for his business, using it to visit potential clients and give estimates and quotes – a free service for his customers that was costing him in fuel.
Webster said the business owner traded in the truck for two small cars – saving enough money on driving expenses to make the purchase affordable.
Alex B., who owns A&R Auto Sales- in the village of Camillus, points out that the economy is hurting everyone right now, but small, established car dealerships are not taking the brunt of the impact.
He has been selling cars for 17 years, the last six in his Camillus location. While the loyalty of customers has been a big help for business, he has scaled back on trade-ins, only accepting vehicles he knows he can sell, and shortened his hours of operation.
B. pointed to an eight-cylinder SUV parked in the lot of the dealership and said it has been there for months – nobody is interested in buying vehicles like that.
At the other end of the lot is a small convenience store and gas station, also part of B.’s business.
Without the garage, he says, he would be out of business, no question. The price of fuel is too high to make a profit.
“I’d be closed the next day, no – the next hour.”