Record-breaking year for auto sales has local dealers smiling

AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – It was a record-breaking year for auto companies in 2016 but local dealers saw an increase in sales, too.

It was the seventh straight year sales have gone up for auto companies, breaking a record for the most vehicles sold.

Greenwood Chevrolet and Fred Martin Ford are neighbors on Mahoning Avenue in Austintown.

“It was a phenomenal year here at Greenwood for car sales,” owner Greg Greenwood said.

Fred Martin agreed.

“One of the best we ever had,” he said.

Martin has been selling Fords for 45 years.

He remembers the day when more cars were sold than trucks. It’s not like that anymore.

“We went, usually 60 percent cars, 40 percent trucks, but now it’s exactly the other way,” Martin said.

Year-end figures show Ford’s car sales were down 13 percent, while SUVs were up 4.9 percent and trucks 6.5 percent.

The F-series pickups were Ford’s best-selling vehicles by far. The company sold 500,000 more F-series than its second-best Escape SUV.

Martin said the environment made it easier to sell.

“The economy was solid, people were working, they’re pretty optimistic, interest rates were very low, gas prices very low.”

At Greenwood Chevrolet, people also bought more trucks and SUVs. In fact, one of the hottest cars on the lot right now is the crossover Chevy Equinox – the dealership’s number one seller for the year.

“Mid-year, with gas prices being so low for so long, we started seeing the Chevrolet Equinox really, really catch on fire locally. Not only for us, but for other Chevy dealers,” Greenwood said.

The Chevy Cruze was right behind the Equinox at the local dealership.

However, General Motor’s number one best-selling vehicle was the Silverado pickup, selling about double that of the number two Equinox.

Looking ahead to next year, both Martin and Greenwood are feeling positive.

Even though Martin thinks 2017 will be a great year, one thing worries him.

“We are concerned that the gasoline prices may go up some.”

Greenwood isn’t as concerned.

“Gas prices, even if they go up, are low and overall, we’re pretty optimistic that 2017 is going to be another great year,” he said.

Sales figures for the Lordstown-built Chevy Cruze were up in December, but down for the year.

In December, 17,324 Cruzes were sold, an increase of 2.8 percent over December of 2015.

Year-end figures dropped 16.6 percent from 2015, with only 188,876 sold in 2016.