It was a tough year for the auto industry. We've seen it first hand in the stateline with dealerships closing and shifts coming and going at the Belvidere Chrysler plant. Many local dealers think 2010 is the year things will turn around.
Two years ago, stateline car dealers were hit hard when the demand for new cars plummeted with the economy. The Rock River Block and its general sales manager, Tony Arbisi, is forgetting the past and looking towards the future. "All the analysts out there will say that the numbers are supposed to be up, or the cars' numbers are supposed to be up."
Lower prices, easier access to loans and years of pent-up demand are just some of the reasons for analysts to give a positive outlook. Even those wary of making predictions are finding it hard not to be optimistic.
"Pretty tough to make a forecast in these economic times but we're looking for a vast improvement over '09," says Dave Lusz, the general manager of an Anderson dealer.
The news isn't all good; many popular lines are disappearing from show floors. General Motors is slimming down and selling off, and many models will soon only be found in used car lots.
"When you talk about used cars, you go back to Yugo and more recently Oldsmobile and now Saturn's going away. I understand Pontiac's going away, so, yeah some of those cars and model lines are going to be discontinued," says Lusz.
This leaves businesses like Zimbrick Saturn of Rockford without any new models. If you drive by the lot, you'll see an ample amount of space.
Plus, thousands of dealers are closing because the market is over-saturated. Those dealers that survived the shrinking market and discontinuations, think the future is looking better and better.
"There's all kinds of new product that's coming out that's making a good push into the community. So we're excited about 2010 and forward," says Arbisi.
George Shaffner, the general manager of Zimbrick Saturn of Rockford, says "the worst is over". With consumer confidence on the rise and millions of aging cars on the road, Shaffner says 2010 is the year of opportunity.
Four stateline Chrysler dealers are now pre-owned vehicle businesses after losing their licenses with Chrysler in the spring, and coming in October a few General Motors dealers will become pre-owned lots as well.