December 4, 2008

Local vehicle sales stable despite national woes

Auto dealerships in Mercer County and statewide have seen little of the adverse sales effects being felt by auto dealerships across the country.

"We’re fortunate in North Dakota. The local economy is strong and our dealers are showing healthy sales, " said Robert Lamp, president and CEO of the Auto Dealers Association of North Dakota, in a press release. "North Dakota is the exception to all the gloom and doom we are hearing and seeing nationally."

Hazen Motors sales manager Steve Huber agrees.

"It’s nothing here like on the national stage. Sales have been down slightly, but the economy in North Dakota in general has been better (than nationally) – which has saved auto sales," he said, adding local new vehicle sales have taken a slight hit, but that’s most likely because they’re a higher-priced item.

"Mostly, it’s just uncertainty. Buyers hear all of the bad news and then tend to hold back a little bit," Huber said.

According to the Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch, General Motors is expected to propose sharp cuts in its North American operations, which could include closing still more manufacturing plants and even shedding some of its brands as the automaker struggles to cope with its dwindling cash pile.

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