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Lindley Estes is a business writer for The Free Lance-Star and This blog is on Fredericksburg-area business. Send an e-mail to Lindley Estes.

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Vehicle sales on the upswing

Business appears to be picking up for Virginia automobile dealers. Last week was one of the strongest for new vehicle sales in Virginia since the federal government’s “Cash For Clunkers” program ended in the fall of 2009, said Michael Allen, spokesman for the Virginia Automobile Dealers Association. Allen attributed the better sales volumes to a slight loosening of credit for auto financing, pent-up demand due to owners holding onto vehicles longer, concerns over rising fuel prices prompting buyers to look for vehicles that use less gas, increased consumer confidence and an improving economy.

The local numbers are consistent with that trend. Registrations of new vehicles in the Fredericksburg region (the city, Caroline, King George, Spotsylvania and Stafford counties) have been up year-over-year for the past four months, according to this data from the VADA. The tally in February was up 42 percent from February 2010.

March is on pace to be the best month in at least a decade for sales of Nissans and Hyundais at Pohanka Automotive Group’s dealership in the Four-Mile Fork area of Spotsylvania County, said dealership General Manager Tim Pohanka. He said the Fredericksburg region traditionally comes out of recession sooner than other areas because of its proximity to Washington, and that appears to be the case this time around as far as auto sales.

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