Page 18 - BusinessWest August 3, 2020
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  Auto Sales
Continued from page 16
historic when it comes to the prices offered to those willing to trade in vehicles or just sell them outright — something that’s happening with increasing frequency.
“There’s an unbelievable shortage of used cars,” said Sullivan. “There just weren’t as many cars coming into the system, for a variety of rea- sons, and that made used-car trade-in values go up. And people are recognizing that and saying, ‘if there if was a time to trade in a car, now’s the time’ — and that’s helping the new-car market.”
“There just weren’t as many cars coming into the system, for a variety of reasons, and that made used-car trade-in values go up.”
As for overall inventory, a drive by any dealer- ship in the area would reveal fewer cars in the
lot, a clear reflection of what’s happening with both new and used vehicles, said Peter Wirth, co- owner of Mercedes Benz of Springfield, noting that his store is typical in most respects. There’s a smaller supply of used cars (only about 12 days, as opposed to the 30-to 45 days that would be typical) and fewer new cars as well as the factories try to catch up for the time lost when they were closed or making other products, such as respira- tors, in the case of General Motors.
The situation is improving, though,
and by late August, most expect a return to something approaching normalcy.
“We’re starting to see inventories coming back, which is exciting for all of us,” said Carla Cosenzi, president of TommyCar Auto Group, adding that, while the landscape may change and there remains a good deal of uncer- tainty, there is currently demand for those cars that will soon be filling the lots.
Which is good
because, while sales
of used cars (if deal-
ers can get them) have
been more than solid,
new-car sales have been
off — but, again, not
as much as the experts
thought they would be
back when states were
shut down and governors were rolling out phased reopenings.
“I’d say, on average, the sales pace for the new-vehicle industry in the Northeast is probably down 10% to maybe 15%,” said Sullivan, adding that these numbers could not have been imag- ined back in the spring, when it looked like the bottom might fall out of the market.
    Peter Wirth says business is returning to something approaching normal at Mercedes- Benz of Springfield, and the summer and fall look promising as new models roll in.
 Looking ahead ... well, looking ahead is some- thing that’s difficult in any sector. But those we spoke with said that, overall, dealers are in decent position for quarters three and four. Invento-
ries are improving, there is still some pent-up demand, there are still plenty of incentives, and new models are arriving on many lots.
But as they’ve seen already this year, things can change in a hurry, and projections — as those
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    18 AUGUST 3, 2020
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