Thursday, December 11, 2008

Running on Empty?

Haven't seen a peep in the local press about automobile sales, but The Smoky Mountain News, which covers mountain counties south of Asheville, is reporting today that sales have slumped down there anywhere from 15 to 60 percent. Particularly hard-hit are domestic makes (duh). No mention in the article of foreign car dealers, though we can't imagine that they aren't feeling the pinch, since money for car loans has tightened up across the board.

"One big problem with the auto business in Western North Carolina is that there are too many dealerships," said the co-owner of Smoky Mountain Chevrolet in Franklin. He also noted that part of GM's plan, if it gets the government bailout (mighty iffy), is to close hundreds of dealerships. (Note to the co-owner of Smoky Mountain Chevrolet: all three U.S. reps for the NC mtns -- Foxx, McHenry, & Shuler -- voted against the bailout yesterday in the U.S. House.)

The main bright spot? Maintenance departments at car dealerships are doing (relatively) well as more people hold on to older models.

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