Hyundai Holds Up
No tire-kickers, but plenty of engineers
"You're not seeing what we call 'tire kickers,'" says Ann Arbor Automotive president Doug Fox. But though the window-shoppers are staying home, Fox says, Ann Arbor's high levels of education and income have provided some insulation from global car-sales collapse. Though automakers are reporting sales declines of 30 to 50 percent in recent months, business at his Hyundai-Nissan-Acura store, says Fox, "is just not off as much." In fact, despite the credit clampdown, he actually ran short of Acura SUVs over the winter.
This spring, he's seen a lot of traffic-"I'm not saying sales, I'm saying traffic"-in response to Hyundai's "assurance plus" campaign, which offers to temporarily cover payments if buyers lose their income. And he's got another ace in the hole: "the Hyundai Kia technical center [in Superior Township]-we see a lot of employees or engineers that work there. I have a salesperson who's Asian and speaks three dialects of Chinese."
[Originally published in April, 2009.]