Positive outlook boosting car sales

David Whalen
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Automotive Newfoundlanders still truckin' : dealers

Toyota Plaza had its best sales year ever last year. And this year is looking far better.

Car and light truck sales at the dealership are up 29 per cent.

Manager Dan Penney attributes his success to the positive outlook of consumers.

"When people feel good about their future, they're more inclined to make large purchases," Penney said.

Toyota Plaza had its best sales year ever last year. And this year is looking far better.

Car and light truck sales at the dealership are up 29 per cent.

Manager Dan Penney attributes his success to the positive outlook of consumers.

"When people feel good about their future, they're more inclined to make large purchases," Penney said.

Car sales in the province have increased at the highest rate in the country this year, according to Toronto-based research group Desrosiers Automotive Consultants.

Over the first seven months of 2008, there have been 20,137 car and light truck sales in the province, marking a 13.8 per cent increase from the same period in 2007.

According to local dealers, there are two reasons for the upswing.

First, there are workers from Alberta, who move between the two provinces, but live and spend the bulk of their money in Newfoundland and Labrador.

"People have changed their way of living. They're commuting to Alberta as opposed to living there," said Bert Hickman, president of Hickman Motors.

Second, with Newfoundland and Labrador's economic outlook steadily improving, it seems more people are willing to make major purchases.

"The level of consumer confidence is probably higher than it's been in years," said Terra Nova Motors president Doug Russell.

According to the dealers, the two hot ticket items are on the opposite end of the size spectrum, small cars and trucks.

Dealers say for everyday city driving, consumers want cars that won't be prohibitively expensive to drive.

"There is concern about gas and the price of gas, there's no question about that," Russell said.

However, there is still a healthy demand for trucks among people who work in construction and people who love the outdoors.

"A lot of Newfoundlanders still like to drive a truck, whether it's to go to the cabin on the weekend, or to pull a trailer, or to pull their Ski-Doo or their ATV," Russell said.

Penny said there's a misconception that local truck sales are weak.

"We hear a lot of media from the U.S. about the poor health of the truck market, but in our experience we haven't seen that," Penney said.

Hickman has also seen increases in truck sales.

"Everybody who speaks to me says 'your poor truck sales'. On the contrary, my truck sales are great. In fact I've run out and I need more," Hickman said.

With the increased demand for fuel-efficient cars, there has been some drop off in sales of high-end vehicles. However, it hasn't hurt profits.

"That's more than made up for with other vehicles that we're selling, volume-wise," Russell said.

david_whalen@hotmail.com

Organizations: Desrosiers Automotive Consultants, Hickman Motors, Terra Nova Motors Ski-Doo

Geographic location: Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador, U.S.

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