Local dealerships report new car sales are on the rise - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Local dealerships report new car sales are on the rise

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WAVERLY (KWWL) -

The Horstman family is looking to start the new year with a new ride.  They stopped at Jerry Roling Motors on New Year's Eve to buy the van they've been in the market for.

"I need a car now," said Barb Horstman. "It's the end of the year, I've been having problems with my other one. Time to get a new one!"

They're not the only ones ready to buy. A new survey suggests the auto industry is revving up as the year comes to an end. Research firm TrueCar.com reports consumers bought nearly 12.8 million cars in 2011. That's the highest annual total since the market crashed in 2008.

December's car sales improved for the fourth straight month, up nearly nine percent from December 2010.

"I think it's fantastic! You know, we're having our best year ever," said Brad Roling, Dealer Principal at Jerry Roling Motors.

It may be a sign the economy is taking a turn for the better. But it's also a reflection of how the auto industry has changed since the recession. Automakers are turning out fewer models -- and the ones on the lot are proven sellers. Meanwhile, the used side is a little more scarce, because drivers are hanging onto their old cars longer.

"There's not the amount of used cars that there were -- so the used cars have come up, and the used prices have come up. I think it's made new cars a better deal," Roling said.

Another reason folks are buying new? Interest rates are at the lowest levels in years, allowing buyers to get more vehicle for their buck.

"It really makes a huge difference, because most people aren't paying cash for a car. They're going to finance it. And if you're saving a few percent off the traditional rates on a new car right now, that's a big difference in payment for most people, and really helps people fit a new car into their budget," said Roling.

It's helping for the Horstman's. They're opting for a more practical vehicle -- meaning, not a convertible. But with two growing kids, it's a dream car in Barb's eyes.

Analysts are expecting 2012 sales to climb even higher. Roling tells us it's allowing local dealerships to hire more workers -- in both the sales and service departments. He says he's added several employees this year, and expects his team to continue to grow in 2012.

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