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Dealerships feel optimistic despite national closures

Sun Advocate writer

Nationwide car dealerships have been suffering through the past several months along with their suppliers, but as for the two main dealerships in Price, both have held strong since the economic downturn accelerated last fall.

Tony Basso GM and Price Auto Group in Price have avoided the nationwide closures that have struck nearly 1,100 GM dealerships and around 700 Ford dealerships since 2005. In fact, both have a positive outlook for the future. "In our region of 39 stores, we are number one, we're very fortunate to be dealing in Carbon County, with its strong economy," said Tony Basso.

Both dealerships have attributed some of their success to the rural surroundings because according to Basso GM dealerships in more urban areas might have ten other GM dealers in a small area, while brands like Toyota, might only have two. "What it will do (the closures) is ultimately make what's left stronger and more competitive," said Basso.

Sales for the year have been about level for both dealers and because of the more rural surroundings in the area, they both report that trucks and SUVs have been some of their top sellers. "Our sales are about the same, pretty even, different from the gloom and doom you hear about nationally," said Danny Mower of Price Auto Group.

One thing that has grown in the past year is vehicle service. "We've actually been hiring four new people in service," said Mower. However, Basso who has also seen growth in service, believes that because many people, have been putting off new purchases for the past year, that there is "a lot of pent up demand," but also says that he is expecting a difficulty in obtaining new cars because all manufacturers have been cutting back production.

New cars have been selling at relatively competitive rates, but used cars have seen a surge in demand. "Used vehicles on whole sale have seen a drastic swing (upwards in price)," said Basso. And as said above, trucks and SUVs have been good sellers in Carbon and Emery Counties, especially over the few months since gas prices have gone down. "We're still in truck county," said Mower. Basso attributes the shift back to SUVs and trucks, from the small cars of last summer to the drop in gas prices that were above four dallors per gallon. "Big trucks and SUVs are selling again, and they're also the hardest to restock."

Basso expects consumer confidence to rebound in the third quarter of this year, and says that in terms of his inventory that he always looks three months ahead.

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