Carson auto dealers rev up for good year

Carson City car dealers look for another good year in 2013, building on growth last year stemming from a young economic recovery and older vehicles being traded in.Managers at General Motors, Dodge-Chrysler and Toyota dealerships said they’re confident and their vehicles are ready to roll. “Last year we were up close to 50 percent,” said Gary Gamba, a general sales manager with Michael Hohl Motor Co., speaking of new vehicle sales from his office at the Hohl General Motors dealership. He said last year’s used car sales also were up at that dealership, which sells new Chevrolets, Buicks, Cadillacs and GMC vehicles.The Hohl family has two other dealerships — Honda and Subaru — along auto row on South Carson Street, which Gamba said had good sales in 2012 as well.Looking ahead, Gamba’s views dovetailed with national auto industry projections. “It’s supposed to be the best year we’ve had in four or five years,” he said. “The economy has gotten a little bit more stable.”General Motors, he said turning to his own shop and products, has cut some costs while improving vehicles and upgrading technology. And he said his shop had a facelift and upgrades to the structure, which helps.Nationally General Motors trailed other automakers but still posted positive 2012 results with a sales gain of 3.7 percent, according to a recent Associated Press report.Ford was up 5 percent nationally, according to that report, Chrysler 21 percent, while Honda sales zoomed 24 percent and Toyota sped ahead at 27 percent. The same report indicated 2012 vehicle sales totaled 14.5 million, up 13 percent from 2011, and various media articles provide national 2013 projections in the range of 15.5 million sales.In Carson City, the Toyota / Scion dealership general manager, Dana Whaley, said the last two years had improved coming out of the 2007-10 economic slump and things look good from here.“I don’t see us going backward,” he said.He added a tidbit other local auto dealership executives didn’t touch on. In the past six months, he said, he has seen businesses buying vehicles, adding or replacing their stock.In addition, Whaley said the other dealership of Dick Campagni, Capital Ford and Carson City Hyundai, was doing well.Stephen Christian, meanwhile, brought his veteran insights to bear as general manager of Carson Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram while peering into the rear view mirror and future. “We had a better-than-anticipated year last year,” he said, “and we’re very optimistic for this year.”Christian, with the dealerships of the same Cryer family in Reno and Carson City for 35 years, also said January was turning out pretty well.“It’s not just that the economy is starting to pick up,” said Christian, who has been in Carson at his current dealership since 1987. He said it’s also that the lineup from Chrysler Group LLC that he handles is better.National optimism among automakers and dealers stems not only from a recovering economy but the fact the nation’s average car age in 2012 topped 11 years. Nor had new car prices skyrocketed.Analysts said car and truck buyers the final month of last year paid an average of $31,228 per vehicle, up just 1.8 percent from December 2011.


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