New auto sales up in Treasure Valley

zkyle@idahostatesman.comMay 22, 2013 

Improving sales for new vehicles in the Treasure Valley mean positive news for dealers and perhaps for the entire local economy.

New-car sales increased 15 percent in Ada and Canyon counties in the first quarter of 2013 compared with the same quarter last year, according to Dealer Intelligence, a sales data service owned by the Idaho Automobile Dealers Association. Sales are also up 15 percent statewide.

Sales at Edmark Superstore of Nampa rose 28 percent, making it the top-selling dealership in Idaho. Edmark sells Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac, GMC and Kia vehicles.

Co-owner David Edmark said the improving sales are a result of the rebounding economy and home values.

“When the bottom fell out of home values, it was a depressing time,” Edmark said. “Now it feels like we’re getting our mojo back.”

Volkswagen Audi Boise enjoyed a 97 percent increase in the first quarter. General Manager John Chalfant said buyers need new cars after making due with aging vehicles during the recession.

“We’re seeing a combination of the economy being stronger and pent-up demand,” Chalfant said. “We take in a lot of trades of vehicles with more than 100,000 miles.”

Edmark said he saw the same trend at his dealership, where the average vehicle coming in for servicing was more than 11 years old and had gone more than 70,000 miles. He said the average mileage on serviced vehicles was about 50,000 before the recession.

“People are feeling a lot more comfortable about their financial situation today than a few years ago,” Edmark said. “They feel good about going out and buying new vehicles. And they need them.”

Edmark said full-size truck sales are climbing as the construction industry rebounds. Chevrolet trucks are up 34 percent at Edmark compared with a year ago, he said. GMC trucks are up 44 percent.

Edmark said he recently sold a full-size truck to a plumbing contractor who cut his staff from 25 employees to eight during the recession. The contractor has built his shop back up to 20 plumbers thanks to improving business, Edmark said.

“Full-size trucks are where we’re seeing the biggest move,” Edmark said. “That’s the strength of the Chevy and GM franchises. Agriculture and construction are all truck-driven.”

Volkswagen Audi Boise is growing in the opposite direction: smaller vehicles, Chalfant said. Customers are trading in vehicles with low fuel efficiency for new high-efficiency Volkswagens, he said. Sales for diesel models are also rising, he said.

“Obviously in the last five or 10 years, the fuel economy of these cars has (improved), Chalfant said. “A new Jetta TDI or Passat TDI gets 40 miles per gallon, easy. People trading in their 10-year old car probably get 20.”

Zach Kyle: 377-6464

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