Winter proved to be disastrous for vehicle sales at dealerships. Some of them, like David Kelleher's Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep store in Glen Mills, Philadelphia have to close their shops for a number of days due to heavy snow and ice. During the chilling weather, one type of vehicle became hot in the eyes of buyers -- all-wheel drives.
"In past winters, customers had to take a day off work if they had a car with rear-wheel drive because it didn't get them out of their driveway," said Kelleher. "When we got hit with this snow, people said, 'Screw this, I'm finally going to take this plunge.'"
Indeed, brands known for their awd vehicles managed to post gains, especially in In February, when industry-wide sales changed only slightly. For instance, Subaru and Jeep found their sales jump 24 percent and 47 percent respectively. According to IHS Automotive, almost one of four vehicles sold in America were equipped with all-wheel drive, which was once a feature found on big trucks.
An all-wheel drive transmission enables all four wheels to propel the car, or any combination of the wheels depending on traction conditions. "There are just so many more choices now," remarked Bill Fox, who owns a dealership in Auburn, N.Y.
"There has been a groundswell of interest from young, married people who are taking a look at safety features and it has to have all-wheel drive. It just wasn't as important before." Overall vehicle sales in the US changed slightly February to almost 1.2 million vehicles, following a 3.1-percent drop in January, as snowfalls and chilling temperatures kept buyers out of dealerships in many parts of the country. [source: Bloomberg]