Economy Rockford: Local Car Dealers Optimistic

It’s a sign of the times as car dealerships across the country are getting financially run over by the recession, forcing many of them to close. Local expert George Schaffner explains why out dealerships are uniquely situated to survive the rough road.

George Schaffner of Saturn of Rockford says what’s really going to drive the local auto industry is confidence. Many automakers are offering buyers assurance programs right now that allow people to keep their cars if they lose their jobs. Schaffner says that’s a move in the right direction. He points out that Hyundai led the way with that incentive and now is one of the only manufacturers seeing an increase in marketshare and sales over the past year. But even those perks aren’t enough to keep some dealers rolling. Schaffner says longevity could be the biggest selling point for many Rockford dealers to survive the times.

“Our retailers here are older retailers. They've been in business a long time. They are very well capitalized. They are not relying on credit for existence. What your seeing around the country is a lot of dealers who don’t have that cash capital, that don't have that investment portfolio, that they can draw from when their not in a positive cash flow. We're in a really stable situation and customers should feel confident in going out and doing business with the Rockford retailers because of the age of our facilities and dealer group itself.”

Schaffner adds American automakers have a big issue to overcome. They’ve trained buyers to wait for incentives, but in the future, Schaffner thinks manufacturers will have to price a vehicle by the sales rate.

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