Auto Dealers Predict Sales Will Bounce Back In 2010

The National Automobile Dealers Association met for its annual convention over the weekend in Orlando, Fla. The group believes 2010 will be better than 2009, which was the worst year in nearly three decades. The reasons: consumers have put off buying cars for several years and now need them. Plus, easing credit and incentives make it easier to buy.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, host:

The National Automobile Dealers Association has come out with a sunny forecast. Its predicting a rise in car and light-truck sales this year. Of course, that wouldnt be hard since last year was the worst in nearly three decades.

NPRs Ted Robbins reports.

TED ROBBINS: Last year, Americans bought 10.4 million new cars and trucks. That was a dismal number for the industry. This year, car dealers expect almost 12 million sales. Better, but still nowhere near the 17 million cars and trucks sold in, say, 2000. During the recession, more people have turned to used cars, pushing up their prices. So now, the gap between new and used has narrowed, and thats a good sign for new car dealers.

Paul Taylor is the chief economist for the National Automobile Dealers Association. He says the main reason more people will make whats typically their second biggest purchase is growing confidence that their biggest purchase, their home, wont depreciate much further.

Mr. PAUL TAYLOR (The National Automobile Dealers Association): The other thing is, they've run the mileages up on many of these vehicles that theyve tended to drive during the recession, and it's simply time to trade. Many of them will feel they cant drive the vehicle yet another year.

ROBBINS: In other words, they need new wheels. The bad weather in the mid-Atlantic states and the Toyota recalls may hurt sales in February, but dealers expect things to pick up in the spring.

Ted Robbins, NPR News.

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