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Despite Economy and Market Woes, Cars Are Still Selling

Tuesday, 9 Aug 2011 | 10:39 AM ET

Since last Thursday the headlines have been downright scary. The country's credit rating has been downgraded, the stock market has plunged and, for the first time since the financial crisis in early 2009, people are looking around and wondering how secure their finances are right now.

With all that swirling around, car buyers are still heading into showrooms.

woman in new car
Neil Beckerman | The Image Bank | Getty Images
woman in new car

You'd think they'd be spooked. They haven't been. As I check in with some of the largest auto dealers in the country, every single one says the same thing: People are still buying.

Not only that, the sales expectations for the second half of this year remains upbeat for many. To quote one dealer, "People still need cars and trucks and they're still coming in here to make a deal."

So what gives?

It appears the pent-up demand from several years where people put off buying new cars and trucks is pushing people into showrooms. The average age of the cars we're driving are already at an all-time high, and they're only getting older.

How do we know that pent-up demand is pushing sales?

Look at the level of incentives being offered right now. They're low. Yet, sales are picking up. Average people, knowing they might get a better deal by waiting a little longer in hopes of rebates ratcheting higher, are not waiting. They're buying.

Could that change if the market continues to tumble? Absolutely. But for now, people are still buying and auto dealers are keeping their fingers crossed that doesn't change.

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___________________________ Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.comand Follow me on Twitter @LeBeauCarNews

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  • Phil LeBeau is a CNBC auto and airline industry reporter based in the Chicago bureau and editor of the Behind the Wheel section on CNBC.com.

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