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O.C. Auto Show to kick up car sales?

October 2, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
In this sagging economy, fewer people are making big purchases like cars. ABC7's Car Specialist Dave Kunz went to the Orange County Auto Show to see what automakers are doing to get you to make that purchase.Each year thousands of people come to the Orange County show to look at the shiny cars, kick some tires and fantasize about what they'd like to own. But, this year, most people will probably be looking at the bottom line: the sticker price and the fuel economy numbers. The doors to the Anaheim Convention Center were open on Thursday. The cars were all shined up, but there was a chill in the air. Not the actual temperature of the room, but the effects of the financial meltdown on the auto industry could be felt throughout the convention center.

"The amount of money that's in people's pockets just isn't there anymore. So that discomfort level that seems pretty high is keeping them out of the dealerships. And if you're not in the dealerships, you're not buying new cars," said Mark Williams, Motor Trend.

The Orange County show is the first of the season in Southern California and the auto industry is a little nervous these days. Last month saw sales declines for every car brand. Even Honda and Toyota got bad news.

"We're kind of hesitant. That's why we want to see what our options are and make an educated choice," said car shopper George Padron.

There are two things slowing down car sales: the price of gas and a reduction in available credit. Generous lease deals are almost a thing of the past.

But the folks who run the Orange County show were quick to point out some good news.

"There's some great opportunities out there to get some great cars. There are some cars that are $10,000 off, 0 percent financing. So it's a great time to buy a car," said John Sackrison, Orange County Auto Show.

Many shoppers have heard that deals can be had if your finances are in order.

"We've been looking around for SUVs because they've dropped so much in price. So luckily that's been something that's been good for us -- not so good for the car companies," said Irvine resident Diane Serrata.

It's hard to gauge how many people have that same attitude. Cars aren't sold directly at the Orange County Show. You have to go to a dealer.

Local sales people should know by next week if the four-day show gets buyers into their showrooms to start negotiating.

 

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