High gas prices not hurting dealership business - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

High gas prices not hurting dealership business

October 4, 2005

Albany--As gas prices climb, many drivers are looking for more fuel efficient cars. Nationwide, Ford and General Motors took a big hit last month because sales of SUV's went way down. But one dealership in South Georgia says that's not the case here.

Business is still booming at Ford Town in Albany, even with high gas prices on everyone's mind.

"It is an issue, and certainly people are conscience of it, but it doesn't stop them from coming in and wanting to look at a new or pre-owned vehicles," says car salesman Hilton Longshore.  He says fuel efficiency isn't the top priority for most of his customers.

 "They're looking for fuel economy for sure, but it's not the most important thing. I mean, they're looking for a vehicle that fits their needs," he says.

Here in South Georgia, sales manager Brian Willian says SUV's still seem to be many customers preferred choice.

"In South Georgia particularly, you're going to have the farmers and the folks who are involved in some activities that they are going to buy some large trucks and SUV's," he says.

However, car manufacturers are responding to the rising gas costs.

"We've had a lot of people look at our hybrids," says Longshore.

"Hybrid has some advantages obviously in fuel economy. You can get up to 36 miles to the gallon in town," says Willian.

Hybrids cost about $3,000 more than vehicles that run on gas alone. For those who can't afford hybrids, Willian says there are other options.

"There's probably more fuel efficient cars out there than there ever has been."

These cars get about 30 miles to the gallon, whereas SUV's average in the low teens; however, for many South Georgians good gas millage isn't really an issue. 

"Folks who are accustomed to buying suvs are accustomed to filling up a SUV," says Willian.

"I don't think there's anybody in the world right now that's not aware of what's happened with gas prices."

And while they're aware, both men say high gas prices won't frighten customers away anytime soon.

Ford Town says it sells an average of three or four SUV's and eight or nine trucks a day.

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