Car business looking up

Published 11:56 pm Saturday, January 3, 2009

Although 2008 was a rough year for the automobile industry, many believe 2009 will be a year that the business will begin to recover.

Wayne McKinnon, owner of McKinnon Toyota and McKinnon Ford, believes the car industry has seen the bottom in October and November 2008.

“By March, I believe we will see business start to pick up,” he said. “I don’t think we will fully recover before 2010, but 2010 could be a big year.”

Before all the economic turmoil began, Stokes Automotive began construction on its new site on Lay Dam Road near I-65. Kirk Stokes, owner of the dealership, was concerned about building the new dealership in the midst of the recession, but they have decided to press on.

“We’re very optimistic that things are going to get better,” he said. “I think we’re already beginning to see that.”

Stokes said his business has been off some in 2008, but it hasn’t been as much as other dealerships around the state especially in metropolitan areas. He believes that is because most of his buyers are more conservative, and the banks they use are more careful in approving loans.

Stokes believes one of the things hurting the car business — especially the Big Three — is the high cost of manufacturing cars today.

“The quality of our cars is as good as [it has] ever been,” Stokes said. “Our cars are just as fuel efficient as imports are. They just cost more to produce.”

One thing McKinnon knows is that right now is one of the best times to buy a car.

“The interest rates are very low right now, and the manufacturers have been giving so many incentives and rebates because there is a glut of cars available,” McKinnon said. “This is probably the best time to buy a car in a long time.”