After a rough spring halted by COVID-19, local car dealers have found their feet again with customers coming out this summer to purchase new rides.
“In April and May we lost a lot of money,” said Steve Huston, president of the Huston Ford dealership in Huntingdon.
During COVID-19 pandemic Gov. Tom Wolf initially forbid the sale of automobiles, only allowing dealerships to stay open to do service work.
“We’ve been able to keep everyone fully employed during all this. the PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) money was a help, for sure. Since we finally were able to go green in June we’ve had profitable months and recovered about 25% of the losses we had incurred in April and May.
“The used market is really strong right now. I’d say the new has not declined but the used market is very strong. In general, people are more interested in SUVs and pickups. I just think it’s customer preference. More advancements have been made on SUVs than have been put into cars.”
Bruce Pergament, owner of Bruce’s Lakeside Motors in Huntingdon, testified to the high demand for used cars.
“It’s been the best year I’ve had in 20 years. The last couple months were slower but it didn’t take away from the start of the year. This month for some reason has been slow, though I had a lot of people last month. I think that had to do with people getting their lump sums of unemployment and now that has dried up and the fact that if you get into a car it’s 200 degrees and people are putting it off.”
Pergament thinks that the local market might be getting help from residents hesitancy to travel this year.
“I think more people are spending money locally and not traveling as much. Manufacturers are beside themselves,” he said.
Similarly, Jerry Hutchison, sales manager at Team Chevrolet Buick GMC in Huntingdon, says business has been doing well since the county went into the green phase.
“It started out slow but since we turned green we’re doing well. There’s still a lot of demand out there. Right now the vehicles new and used are very scarce so it’s pushing the prices up a little bit. The factory was down and everyone was selling used vehicles so now they’re more rare,” he said.
“It seems like most people that actually come here are buyers. We don’t maybe have as much traffic. People that aren’t buying and just stopping in and then leave. The people that are showing up are buying so we’re very fortunate.”
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