Most businesses in Payson are suffering with the downturn in the economy; the car business is no exception.
"The last few years have been tough, a struggle for us," said general manager of Chapman Auto Center, Buck Rogers. In 2005, business was strong, but has declined a little more every year since.
With sales down 20 percent over the last two years for Chapman, Rogers said, the industry is facing tough, but not disastrous circumstances.
Customers are no longer swapping in their car every few years, upgrading to the latest model.
More consumers are choosing to purchase cars with high fuel mileage over large SUVs and trucks, popular in years past.
"The market on large trucks is down and the value has gone way down," Rogers said.
Customers who bought trucks have seen the retail value plummet as trade-in demand has sunk.
"A lot of people owe more than what the truck is worth," Rogers said. "The wholesale value has switched, cars are high and trucks are low."
The only people buying trucks are construction workers and consumers who have a need to pull equipment, such as RVs and boats, Rogers said.
"It is more of a need than a want," he said of big car purchases.
Manufacturers are quickly converting factories to produce smaller cars.
"They are trying to slow down production and produce smaller cars, but converting a factory takes a long time," he said.
Chapman Auto Center stays afloat partly with sales from the parts and service departments.
Because people are choosing to keep their cars longer, they require more maintenance, Rogers said.
This keeps the staff busy and layoffs low.
"We have had no layoffs," Rogers said.
For 2009, Rogers predicts the year will be slow and tough.
"I don't think this market is going to change," he said.
"This is going to be like this for awhile."