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Cleveland Auto Show looks to spark spring buying season as auto dealers load up on inventory

Posted at 5:25 PM, Mar 01, 2023

CLEVELAND — The sun that was shining bright outside of the IX Center on the first day of March was a sign of the optimism local auto dealers have heading into spring. The weather Wednesday made for the perfect backdrop for those looking to test drive a potential new ride. People like John Oliger who drove up from Columbus. He likes that the cars are here without the pressure.

"It's much better than going to the dealer because you can ask questions if you want or just roam around and look. There are product specialists you can talk to," Oliger said.

January auto sales were down 2.9% compared to 2021 but that 2021 number was down 20% from 2020. Inventory was a major factor in the decline early last year but the Greater Cleveland Auto Dealers Association says it's coming back.

"We don't have as many problems with the supply chain shortages and there are even some 2022s that are on the lot that need to be moved," said Lou Vitantonio, president of the Greater Cleveland Auto Dealers Associaton. "A lot of manufacturers have overall national incentives but also auto show specific incentives as well."

Incentive is a word that Vitantonio said hasn't been used in a couple of years because there wasn't a need for them with inventory so low. Some of those incentives address the newer issue this year of high interest rates that have jacked up your monthly car payments.

"There will be rates that will be reduced vs. the 7 or 8%, you'll see a 2.9% for a certain number of months assuming you qualify and that's what's coming back into the market and coming quickly."

Inflation though is an issue there is no way around. Bill Scharf of Berea is in the market for a new truck but the stickers? "You know most of these are $50,000, $60,000 you know it's getting to be the same price as a house," he said laughing.

And that's not even in the high rent district that Rich Steinbrenner of North Royalton was eyeing.

"I've been looking at the Corvette, I like the EV Hybrid that they have because you don't have to be dependent on charging," he said. When News 5 asked what the price tag was? "I think they start at $103,000.

Cheaper though than the $168,000 model that is next to it. Most at the Auto Show are looking at the price range that fits their budget and if they find it, history shows that over the next few weeks they will buy it.

"March is the highest selling month of any month statistically for new car sales throughout the whole year," Vitantonio said. "Really what people are doing out here is looking for value, they're looking for what can fit into their budgets and we anticipate a good surge coming out of the show."