PETALUMA (KCBS) – Things are certainly speeding along, and in the right direction, for California auto dealerships. The Bay Area is no exception – local new car sales figures mirror those reported statewide.

The California New Car Dealers Association recently released figures showing that the number of new cars sold throughout the state was up more than 25% in 2012, compared to 2011. Experian Automotive released a similar statistic for Sonoma County, where new car sales were said to be up 27% in 2012, compared to the county’s 2011 new car sales numbers.

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By contrast, the nationwide trend for new car sales in 2012 was just a 13.4% increase over 2011 sales.

“What’s really changed is consumer confidence has been regained,” theorized George White, owner and general manager, Petaluma Hyundai. “Everybody’s a little more stable in their job and stable in their housing.”

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“It’s been a rough patch for a lot of people,” White acknowledged. “They’ve been insecure about their current position, their jobs, and insecure about their home situations. So they’re starting to stabilize there and, of course, an automobile purchase is the second largest purchase you’re going to make.”

White himself has just begun hiring again, after initiating layoffs during the recession.

“We are gaining ground…I would say over the last six months, we’ve probably been putting on one person a month, and that’s going in the right direction,” he declared.

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