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February sales: Best since the bust

Smart spiffs, slick tech helped

To drive February sales higher, dealers say automakers offered discounts that met changing consumer demand – less cash on the hood, richer leasing and financing deals, and more lease pull-ahead deals.

Automotive NewsMarch 7, 2011 – 12:01 am ET

One way to read February: The auto industry is back.

Easier credit and a few new tricks from dealers and automakers put auto sales on their fastest pace — excluding cash for clunkers — since August 2008, just before the Lehman Bros. crash and the nation’s economic meltdown.

February light-vehicle sales jumped 27 percent over the same month last year. The 13.4 million annual selling rate broke through a four-month plateau in the low-to-mid-12 million range.

And all the growth was retail. Except for Toyota, the large automakers reported a lower fleet mix.

What made it happen?

  • Dealers say manufacturers offered inventive incentives that met changing consumer demand: less cash on the hood, richer leasing and financing deals and more lease pull-ahead deals.
  • Automakers say dealers have sharpened use of new technology for customer relations — replacing or supplementing mailings with quick-response media such as texting, e-mails, Facebook and Twitter.

Photo credit: BLOOMBERG

Article courtesy of Jesse Snyder

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John Paul Strong

John Paul Strong combines his two decades of automotive marketing experience with a team of more than 150 professionals as owner and CEO of Strong Automotive.

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