Car sales surge higher

Car sales surge higher

June 2nd, 2010 by Mike Pare in Businesstopstory

As truck and sport utility vehicle sales surged, the number of new vehicles titled in Hamilton County in May rumbled past year-ago levels.

"We had a good month. We were 100 percent of objective on all our three lines," said Jeff Henry, new car sales manager at Land Rover of Chattanooga, which also sells Porsche and Jaguar.

New vehicle registrations in Hamilton County, which closely relate to sales, climbed over 44 percent in May compared to the same month a year ago, according to the Clerk's Office.

New truck and SUV sales rose 51 percent in the month versus a year ago, figures show.

Sandy Pursley of Larry Hill Ford in Cleveland, Tenn., said the rebound in sales will continue as the automaker makes vehicles people want to buy.

"Ford has taken leaps and bounds," he said.

Ford Motor Co. chief sales analyst George Pipas told Auto News that he believes the U.S. auto industry's annualized sales will hit 11.1 million in the month of May, which would be the third consecutive month above the 11 million mark.

"A modest recovery is still in the works. The second half will likely be stronger than the first half, but not wildly stronger," Mr. Pipas said.

Chattanooga Infiniti/Subaru/Mitsubishi/Saab dealer Tim Kelly said his business "had a decent month, but we were hoping for even more momentum after the strong months in March and April."

"I think it's pretty consistent with the slow, steady recovery," he said.

Danny Jackson of Walter Jackson Chevrolet in Ringgold, Ga., said new and used vehicle sales were up, though the recovery is going to be a slow process.

"I'd rather have baby steps and be on the incline," he said.

While Hamilton County's 834 new vehicle registrations were higher in May over 2009, figures are still off from prior years. In May 2008, for example, the county titled 1,373 new vehicles in the month, figures show.

Chattanoogan Howard Bolden said Tuesday he recently bought a new car.

"I'm on a fixed income," he said. "I do what I have to do."

But David Crownover, also of Chattanooga, said he's not in the market for a new vehicle. He said he has a 2008 model that should suit him for years to come.

Mr. Henry of Land Rover said he remains positive on vehicle sales for the rest of 2010.

"We're on the right track," he said.

Staff writer Dave Flessner contributed to this story.