Slow economy impacting luxury purchases

Keoni Hansen
Keoni Hansen

By Leland Kim - bio | email

MAPUNAPUNA (KHNL) - The economic slowdown is also impacting other industries, especially luxury purchases. The automotive industry is facing a tough time, as more people are choosing to hold onto to their cars or take public transportation.

It's no surprise the automotive industry has been hit hard, first by high gas prices, and then, by the economic slowdown. Dealers are looking for creative ways to attract customers in these tough times.

These fast cars stand still at this Infiniti car dealership. A slow afternoon during a slow economy.

"Right now, it's a bit of a challenging time with the economy but for the most part there are a lot of good brands out there and a lot of good vehicles," said Keoni Hansen, the new car sales manager at the dealership. "And the Hawaii market is typically strong."

Infiniti of Honolulu and other places are looking for new ways to attract customers.

Industry wide, sales are down by more than 20 percent from a year ago.

"I think everyone is feeling it a little bit," said Hansen. "Our numbers are down about 14 percent year to date. So it's not too bad."

This redesigned FX35 is Infiniti's latest weapon in these tough times. Aggressive incentive programs and low interest rates are designed to get you behind the wheel in a luxury vehicle.

Besides sleek designs, dealerships say reliability and customer service are important in retaining customers.

"There's still people out there buying cars, and in a lot of cases, it is a necessity, so people are still buying," said Hansen.

So as dealerships are looking to attract customers before the 2009's arrive, it could very well be a buyer's market.

"There's a lot of good incentives out there right now," said Hansen. "The factories are getting very aggressive, so now's a good time to buy."

A drive to attract customers riding on a bumpy road.

Car manufacturers are trying to tailor their production to changing consumer tastes. Not surprisingly, hybrids are doing well, and truck sales are down.