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Orange County Auto Show tries to make lookers into buyers

September 22, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
It's tough for many of us to think about buying a new car in these difficult economic times, but it doesn't hurt to look.

That's what thousands will be doing this weekend, at the Orange County Auto Show.

The O.C. Auto Show is a little earlier in the year than usual, and it's always fairly early in the new model year.

But is it also a little early in this roller-coaster economy to get people to make the move from being lookers to buyers?

"Ideally I would like one, but it's not in the cards for me right now," said Huntington Beach resident Priscilla Jeng. "Hopefully I'll be able to save up some money once the economy gets better."

"It's a tough time for the auto industry to convince people to buy new vehicles," said Auto Pacific Analyst Dan Hall. "We rely on passion- on the latest styles, the newest technology. But those don't necessarily bring you out to the marketplace when you don't have any money."

Even if the economy is making you a little shy about taking on new car payments, it is fun to come and just look. Here you can take in all the latest- whether it's green, or fun, or maybe a little of both.

Volkswagen is offering a first look at its redesigned Beetle, and Honda brought the next generation of its best-selling CR-V Crossover.

While static displays can be a treat for the senses, Jeep is offering a seat-of-the-pants experience on an obstacle course they call "Camp Jeep."

"You've got articulation, you've got ground clearance, you've got traction," said Jeep Spokesperson Scott Brown. "You combine all those things in a condense little loop, it takes about five minutes and consumers can experience what a jeep can do, where it can take them."

No you don't get to drive, but riding shotgun is still plenty intense.

It's gimmicks like this, plus the usual flashy eye candy, that the auto industry is using to entice buyers into showrooms. Showrooms that, for some companies, was running a little bare due to the earthquake in Japan earlier this year.

"The good news is that for the majority of our cars, North American production is back to 100 percent as of the end of August," said Honda Spokesperson Chris Marti. "So the dealer lots are going to start refilling."

The O.C. Auto Show is running at the Anaheim Convention Center until Sunday.


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