Houston Ford closed its Crosby dealership earlier this month.
Dick Houston, owner of Houston Ford in Pine River, said he hoped to sell the dealership to a General Motors dealer but that buyer decided not to venture into another location. Houston said he bought the Crosby dealership three years ago- which employed three people full time and one person part time - not so much with a plan to expand as with an idea that he would resell it.
But Houston said he wasn't able to get that job done. Houston has been in the auto business full time since 1956 and his family started its dealership in 1941. Houston said it's the oldest Ford dealership in central and northern Minnesota.
Regarding the outlook for the industry, Houston said he already has a Ford product that is equal to Asian imports in fuel economy, quality and reliability.
"We have products that totally compete and in many cases will beat them in fuel economy," Houston said. "That's a huge leap."
He said the latest Ford Fusion has better gas mileage than Honda and Toyota rivals with updated models in other car lines expected in the next eight months.
"So there's a lot of positive things to get people coming in the door," Houston said.
Now the trick is to get a consumers to do just that. Houston said Ford's incentives of employee pricing and cash rebates up to $6,000 are aimed at bringing those people to the dealership. The buzz from consumers is that they are holding off on big purchases until after the first of the year.
Houston said all people hear every day is how auto manufacturers are struggling while they are offering the greatest incentives and promotions Ford has ever offered. Houston said the best deals that anyone has ever seen are likely in the next six weeks because car manufacturers want to reduce dealer inventory and in the future will base production more on demand in order to reduce a glut of inventory out there.
"It's the last of the biggies and that is my prediction," Houston said of incentives.
Offers may linger just past the holidays into early January, Houston said.
As for credit, Houston said auto buyers with a job and decent though not perfect credit are able to secure financing. The banks he deals with are willing to loan money on cars, Houston said.
RENEE RICHARDSON, senior reporter, may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5852.
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