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Vehicle sales surging locally, nationally

Vehicle sales are revving up in Mitchell.

Even before a May 5 hailstorm caused dealers to sell a large number of discounted, hail-damaged vehicles, dealerships were seeing large increases in sales during the start of 2012.

At Vern Eide, General Manager Kelly Kramer said all three locations in Mitchell have seen a significant increase in sales so far this year.

"Year to date, we are up double in sales of what we did last year." Kramer said he is confident those numbers will continue. "I don't really see a fall back at all," Kramer said. "The economy is strong in this area, and there are a lot of great new vehicles coming out."

At Iverson Chrysler in Mitchell, General Manager Tim Herll said the dealership is following up a record breaking 2011 with a strong 2012. "In 2011 we were up 69 percent from the previous year," Herll said. "This year before the hailstorm, our sale numbers were up from 2011, and now we are just going to crush those numbers."

Kramer cited a strong farm economy as a major factor but said it is not the only reason for the jump in sales. "We are continuing to see growth, and it has a lot do with selection and having the cars the people want," Kramer said. Herll also credited a strong product.

"After Chrysler went through bankruptcy, they really came out the other side with some great new cars," Herll said. A May 5 hailstorm in Mitchell damaged about 300 cars on the Iverson lot. Since then, the dealership has sold all but about 50 of the damaged vehicles.

Herll said he has already started the process of replacing the cars that were sold during the "hail sale." He expects the car lot to be at two-thirds capacity within 30 days.

Nationally, car sales have also seen a jump so far in 2012. Sales are up 14.9 percent over last year, according to a Wall Street Journal story published May 1.

Light-duty truck sales are also up 5.5 percent this year compared to last year, and SUVs are up 10.6 percent.

The make of car that saw the largest increase in sales nationally was the Ford Focus, with an increase of 57.3 percent.

Kramer said fuel economy and a redesign have a large amount to do with the increase in sales for the Focus.

He said sales on particular makes of vehicles remain pretty even in the Mitchell Area.

"We sell more trucks than the national average for obvious reasons, but as a whole no vehicle has really stood out as having a huge jump in sales," Kramer said.

Even with a downturn in the economy during recent years, Kramer said he didn't see a significant drop in sales.

"We really don't see that as much in the Midwest compared to the East and West coasts. Our business here has stayed pretty steady." Kramer said.