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Auto dealers gearing up for tremendous year

“The sky’s the limit.”

That’s how Jim Bechtell, owner of the Somerset Buick/GMC dealership, sums up his outlook for the upcoming year. With the 2012 North American International Auto Show in full swing this week, Bechtell and other auto dealers around southeast Michigan are eager to capitalize on the success the industry enjoyed in 2011.

“General Motors for Buick and GMC, they’ve got a nice little niche with the premium vehicle market,” Bechtell said. “They’re not luxury cars like Cadillac, but they’re not Chevys either. The price point is right in the sweet spot for these world-class cars.”

He then pointed to the all-new Verano and the launch of the Encore as examples of how General Motors is gearing up for the year.

“It’s all about the product,” Bechtell said. “We can now offer vehicles that get 32 mpg or 36 mpg and you don’t have to feel like you’re crammed inside. They’ve got capacity and they offer great performance.”

Dick Scott, owner of Dick Scott Dodge in Plymouth, shares the enthusiasm.

“We’ve got great products to start with,” he said Friday. “We’ve got the 2013 Dart coming in June — it’s just a phenomenal car. The banks are really concentrating on auto loans, there are strides in the economy and it’s an election year, which is always good for retail.”

He estimates a 15- to 20-percent increase in sales across the board.

“We had a great 2011,” he said. “We finished December with a flurry and everything is pointed in the right direction, which is good for the entire economy.”

Mike Schrieber, general manager of Bill Brown Ford in Livonia, said the newly-designed 2013 Escape and Fusion are sure to capture the public’s attention.

“Bill Brown Ford is in a unique position,” he said. “We sell more Escapes and Fusions than any dealer in the United States. We’ll be the ones who get the inventory, especially in the beginning ,when they’re hard to get.”

At the same time, Schrieber said leasing deals on 2012 Fusions and Escapes have been sweetened to move the inventory.

“It really is all about the customer,” he said.

Roy Williams, sales manager at Avis Ford in Southfield, adds the stylishly revamped 2013 Taurus to his list of hot-selling products for the coming year.

“We’ve got quite a bit of momentum going right now, and to add to that momentum we’ve got the new Fusion, the new Escape and the new Taurus,” Williams said. “Anyone heading down to the auto show will get a chance to see just how great these cars look.”

Williams added that Ford plans to continue with its aggressive incentive programs to keep people heading into the showrooms.

“Ford is committed to staying aggressive,” he said. “We are always striving to being the best.”

Scott LaRiche, vice president of Lou LaRiche Chevrolet in Plymouth Township, expects the public to be pleasantly surprised by the number of new vehicles being introduced at this year’s car show, not to mention the quality.

“I think the number one thing in 2012 is every manufacturer across the globe has excellent products that people can see at the auto show,” he said. “I spoke to some of the manufacturers at the show and they’re anticipating 14.2 million to 15 million in car sales across the globe this year. That’s a nice uptick from last year’s number, which I think was around 13.5 million.”

Along with better cars, LaRiche said many of the GM dealerships are getting face-lifts to offer nicer showrooms and customer lounges. He also touted the 2013 Malibu that’s expected to arrive in his showroom in the next several weeks.

“They took it to a whole new level,” LaRiche said. “They’re taking cues from the Camaro and Corvette in terms of styling — and it gets up to 38 mpg on the highway. For a mid-sized vehicle, that’s incredible.”

As read on:http://www.hometownlife.com/article/20120115/NEWS02/201150343/Auto-dealers-gearing-up-tremendous-year?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|Royal%20Oak|p

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