Car sales surge to pre-recession levels

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SAN DIEGO – The U.S. auto industry has shifted into high gear and is emerging from the worst automotive slump in decades.

Jeff Argirakis purchased a 2013 Ford Fusion last week.  He considers himself an expert when it comes to purchasing cars and for good reason.  He has been a car salesman for nearly 30 years.

Argirakis said he purchased the car, because the timing was perfect.

car-sales“There were great dealer incentives and cheap interest rates,” said Argirakis.

According to experts, not only are interest rates low, but other factors are also driving strong sales, including a growing job market and a housing industry rebound.

“I cannot believe the day I bought my vehicle, how busy the dealership was,” Argirakis said.

In August, General Motors, Ford and Chrysler reported double digit percentage increases in new car sales, the best the industry has seen since before the recession started in 2007.

Some car dealerships in San Diego also saw a surge in sales.

“We’ve been seeing an increase in sales from month to month,” said John Blake, controller at El Cajon Ford.  “August is a lot better than it has been in the last few years, we saw about a 20 percent increase from last year.”

Meanwhile, some manufacturers are struggling to keep showrooms stocked.

Blair Dial said he noticed a lack of inventory during his recent search for a truck.

“The first dealership I went to had lots of stock, but the other three dealerships I went to were empty,” said Dial.

For much of the last decade, vehicle prices have remained relatively flat, rising at a pace well below inflation.  Experts warn, as sales rise so do prices.

According to data tracking service TrueCar.com, the Average Transaction Price, which balances incentives and options against list prices, rose a record $31,252, a 3.2 percent jump from August 2012.

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