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"Pent-up demand" has CNY auto dealers optimistic for spring

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Snow melting signals the start of the busy season for auto dealers. This year a good product and revived auto industry have them more optimistic.

The month of March is around the corner, and in the minds of auto dealers, it not only brings warmer temperatures, but also customers back to their lots.

And after a few years of hard times and sluggish sales, they’re more optimistic going into their busy selling season.

“The spring season is one of our best parts of the year for selling vehicles. And I think this year we have something to look forward to,” East Syracuse Chevrolet salesman Perry Richardson said at this past weekend’s Syracuse Auto Show. He’s worked the show for two-decades.Auto shows in upstate New York serve as a kick-off to that busier March.

This year in Syracuse, a larger crowd was filled with more people interested in buying and not just checking out the shiny cars, Richardson says. They were also hitting him with more pointed questions about the vehicles than years past.

It helps this year that dealers say they have better cars on their lots than before the recession, to match up with increasing demand.

“They say there’s a lot of pent-up demand and people have been holding off on buying new cars and there’s a lot of exciting new products on the market,” says Ken Rendell, a salesman for Burdick Nissan. “I think all that, combined with some positive sentiment about the economy, I think it’s going to be a very busy year.”

Interest in electric and hybrid cars is also increasing. That’s what Paul and Barbra Cherbini of Castorland in the North Country, who attended the show, were considering buying. They had been thinking about swapping rides for a few years, but are more serious this year.

“I think the products are better. I think they’ve evolved further. The hybrid technology is advanced and everybody is jumping on that bandwagon and I think that’s the shape of things to come,” says Paul.

With gas prices rising to the mid-$3.80 a gallon range in New York this week, those hybrids could be even more appealing.

WRVO/Central New York reporter for the Innovation Trail
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