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Continued: AutoNation 2Q net income rose 14 percent, expects higher sales industrywide this year

  • Article by: TOM KRISHER , AP Auto Writer
  • Last update: July 18, 2013 - 6:00 PM

While Jackson wouldn't predict total U.S. sales for next year, he said auto sales should stay strong for several years because people have to replace aging vehicles that they kept through the Great Recession. The average age of a vehicle on U.S. roads still exceeds 11 years. "That's barely budged even with the sales recovery that's underway," Jackson said. "I still think we have years to go in the recovery."

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Wednesday there is no "preset course" for easing up on bond purchases that have kept interest rates low. He said the U.S. economy is gradually improving and there's no timetable for scaling back policies aimed at jolting growth.

Jackson said he doesn't expect auto loan rates to rise in the next year even as the bond purchases are curtailed, nor does he expect rates to rise for his chain and other dealers who borrow to fund their inventories. The bond purchases, he said, mainly affect interest rates on loans of more than 10 years. Typical car loans are four or five years.

"I see no sign of short-term rates moving in the foreseeable future," Jackson said. "Someday they will, but the economy will be much stronger at that point."

AutoNation also reported that it was granted a new Mercedes-Benz franchise in the Atlanta market. It earlier announced that it got a new Mercedes franchise in Tampa, Fla. Both franchises are expected to open in 2015.

During the second quarter, the company acquired Honda and Hyundai dealerships in Arizona and a Toyota dealer in the Dallas market.

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