National Automobile Dealers Association meets in San Francisco

Various cars sit in the lot for sale at a General Motors used car dealership at the Troy Motor Mall in Troy, Mich.

TEXT OF STORY

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: Car dealers haven't had much to celebrate over the past couple of years. GM and Chrysler filed for bankruptcy, took government bailouts, and hundreds of dealers were closed. But things are looking up for the automotive industry. And a lot of those car dealers are feeling some spring in their, er, gas pedals as they get together for a big convention in San Francisco.

Carroll Smith is there. He's president of Monument Chevrolet near Houston and he's with us now. Good morning Carroll.

CARROLL SMITH: Good morning Steve.

CHIOTAKIS: What's it like over there? What's the mood this year over years past?

Gosh, the mood is so different among dealers and manufacturers as we've come off some pretty tough years, and we actually are seeing a good uptick in business, and so the mood is just so different. It's exciting.

CHIOTAKIS: The automakers are reporting, you know, sales gains over last year, obviously. Are you seeing that translate at your dealership?

Absolutely. We saw that January, for the industry, was up 17 percent. Quite frankly my market and my dealership -- we were up about 40 percent over January of last year. So we had a very strong month.

CHIOTAKIS: Did you think that was going to happen? Put yourself, like, a year ago?

SMITH: Of course a year ago I don't think any of knew where our economy and where we were going. We knew that there was a lot of pinning up of demand going on even though things are still tough in our economy. And the certainty have become back in. That's why we've seen people back out willing to buy something as large and expensive as an automobile. Our month last month was very strong in pick up truck sales. And you know, I don't know if we're getting people that, you now when the gas price is up they bought something smaller, something that didn't really fit their needs. But we're seeing people back in the truck market.

CHIOTAKIS: Carroll Smith runs Monument Chevrolet near Houston. Carroll thanks.

You bet.

About the author

Steve Chiotakis was the host of Marketplace Morning Report until January 2012.

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