Auto industry turning the corner on recession

MINNEAPOLIS -- Scott Lambert spent a good chunk of his Sunday counting cars at the 2012 Twin Cities Auto Show.

Lambert, the Executive Vice Pres. of the Greater Metropolitan Automobile Association of MN, was encouraged to look at 488 vehicles. The floor grew by 25,000 square feet compared to last year too. It's an overall signal that the industry as a whole is growing.

"Our product wears out and people come back and buy it and people were holding on to their cars a long time. I think there's pent up demand," Lambert said. "The show itself has gotten bigger and the crowds are bigger."

The same industry that was on the verge of collapse in 2009 is coming off a pretty good year of growth and industry analysts expect that growth to continue. Matt Westberg of Superior Brookdale Ford does too. "Beginning of 09', you could hear crickets. Now, I'm scheduled for 45 hours a week and work about 60 hours so I guess that tells you," he remarked.

Ford and Chrysler have just posted big year to year jumps for the month of February and most automakers are reporting truck and SUV sales remain strong even as gas prices continue to rise.

Lambert says another signal that things are getting better came in the form of a request from local dealerships, who asked him to run a job fair during the auto show so they could meet some prospective workers. "They haven't been doing that the last couple years. This year they're feeling a little bit better about it and they're going to bring some more staff on," he concluded.

The Twin Cities Auto Show, the 7th largest in the nation, continues at the Minneapolis Convention Centerthrough Sunday, March 18th.


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