Automakers rolling out more SUVs, worrying national dealers but not Baton Rouge

    While some car dealers and analysts across the nation are concerned whether dealerships will be able to handle the growing influx of choices for sports-utility vehicles and crossovers, Eric Lane, president of Gerry Lane Enterprises in Baton Rouge, says the Capital Region shouldn’t suffer because it’s still rebounding from the 2016 floods. 

    SUVs became popular for those looking for larger rides, prompting auto makers to roll out a range of models of different sizes and price points, which some dealers are warning could lead to an overcrowded market and deflated prices. 

    Nationwide, sales of crossovers and SUVs are slowing, but Lane says interest remains high for such vehicles in Baton Rouge, crediting the vehicles’ popularity to people’s fear of large trucks and crossovers’ lower price point. 

    “People found out you can take a car, raise the roof and people will buy it. It costs a lot less money and people like the look of it, so the factories picked up on it,” Lane says. “Everyones scared to death to get in a car low to the ground, especially women. They don’t feel comfortable in a car anymore. Women want to sit up taller where they can see.” 

    As far as local sales go, the region is still rebounding from the 2016 floods. As a car dealership group, sales in the Baton Rouge market dropped 20% in 2017 and an additional 20% more last year, says Lane, who’s seeing business begin to pick up at his dealerships. 

    “Right now, we’re about the same as last year as a city in sales,” Lane says, “but I think the last half of the year, we will have a chance to do better than last year. I look for the rest of the year to be good.”

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