Car sales increase while Americans continue to drive less - Greenville, NC | News | Weather | Sports - WNCT.com

Car sales increase while Americans continue to drive less

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As we near the end of the Labor Day weekend, experts are crunching travel numbers. AAA expects more than $34 million Americans hit the road. But one study suggests overall Americans are driving less.

A study released by the US Department of Transportation says the number of miles traveled dropped during the most recent recession and has yet to recover.

Economist credit gas prices, unemployment rates and the cost of owning a car. Automotive proponents disagree with the findings. "We've seen a good increase in new car sales in the last 4 years." matt Murchison of Greenville Nissan said.

In Greenville dealers say they are encouraged by the new car market. IMC Automotive forecasts that new car sales will reach $15.6 million for all of 2013, up from $14.5 million the year before.

"It was tough five years ago, but the banks have been a help. Interest rates have been very good and very low." Murchison said.

Labor Day is a big weekend for dealers, especially for those looking to push out the 2013's. "Simply put, we're trying to move the current model year so we can make room for the next model year." Brian Rogers, a salesman of 14 years says the market is climbing steadily and believes people are driving the same amount.

However, while families continue to buy new cars, Rogers says they are spending less on add-ons. "If they don't need that power seat, they are not going to spend that extra $300-400 on the power seats.  A car is no longer a want; it's a need for most families."

So the question is why do we care? Economists say this can impact long-range planning assumptions. DOT is expanding highways to cut down on congestion.

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