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Small-car craze a boom for dealers

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.

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