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AUTOMOTIVE: Auto sales booming
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Automotive

AUTOMOTIVE: Auto sales booming

Times Board of Economists - Report from Tim Roper, owner of Smith Motors Auto Group

September was a super month for the car business, said Tim Roper, owner of Smith Motors Auto Group, which has Chevrolet dealerships in Hammond and Lowell.

Ford sales rose by 23 percent, and General Motors sales were up by 13 percent, or 17 percent if you include retail but not fleet. Overall truck sales, which count both pickups and SUVs, rose 24 percent in September.

"It helped that Labor Day was later this year, but there was strong demand without sales prices," Roper said. "It was one of the best months for retail since July of 2005, and that was driven by special employee pricing."

Conditions are working in the auto sector's favor right now, including low interest rates, low gas prices, strong housing start-ups and high consumer confidence, he said.

"The age of the vehicles on the road is still very high," he said. "But we have seen a run like we've had over the last five months for years. We're on pace for 17 million units. September sales were at an annualized rate of 20 million, which is incredible."

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Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.

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