EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


April 15, 2008

Focus: Dealers tout fuel-efficient cars

With the cost of a gallon of gas somewhere north of $3 and not looking back, local car dealers say many motorists are shedding their beloved sports utility vehicles in favor of mid-sized family sedans.

Hybrids, cars that run on a combination of gasoline and electricity, are up and coming, but local dealers say many customers are opting for sedans and so-called crossovers — vehicles that resemble small trucks but are built on car platforms for better mileage.

Fuel-efficient vehicles — even used fuel-efficient cars — are so popular they are difficult to keep in stock, some dealers say.

At Commonwealth

Commonwealth Motors at 1 Commonwealth Drive in Lawrence sells a full line of Chevrolet, Honda and Kia vehicles.

"They are so popular we don't have enough cars available," sales manager Charles Daher Jr. said of fuel-efficient cars.

People are coming in and getting out of their SUVs, Daher said.

And even used fuel-efficient vehicles are going out the door right away, he said.

Among the most popular fuel-efficient cars Commonwealth sells are the Honda Civic and Accord, the Chevrolet Impala and Malibu, and the Kia Spectra.

"Hybrids are not really popular yet," Daher said, adding that the dealership is expecting to receive a hybrid SUV from Chevrolet soon.

The cars that are getting 30 mpg, including the Chevrolet Cobalt and Aveo, are the big sellers, he said. The Aveo models are not made in the United States and it takes awhile to get them, Daher said.

"Anything over 30 mpg, people are really scoffing up," he said.

And thepeople who need the bigger cars are finding good deals, Daher said.

At Rockingham

The rising popularity of fuel-efficient vehicles seems to be directly related to the cost of fuel, said Emmett Horgan, owner of Rockingham Toyota at 354 Main St., Rockingham Nissan at 343 Main St., and Rockingham Honda at 360 N. Broadway, all in Salem, N.H.

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