Hybrid dealer gets around tight inventory by selling same cars twice

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The Florida Hybrid Center is a pretty unusual dealership. It's hybrid-only, dealing in nothing but new hybrids from Lexus and used Toyota Prius. It's also a dealership with a problem, the kind of problem that other dealers would love to have: it's too successful.

Before this spring's earthquake in Japan, the dealership managed to keep a 30-day supply on the lot, but as deliveries slowed down after the quake, inventory dwindled. With orders going up and new vehicle arrivals slowing down, the dealerships new and used lots emptied out. By the end of April, the Florida Hybrid Center was essentially "sold out."

That's when the manager of the dealership came up with a unique solution: he went to customers who had purchased hybrids in previous years, bought them back, then sold them again.

Hybrid owners who had become disenchanted with their vehicles, or who simply wanted a chance to swap for another model, got discounts on trades for new non-hybrid cars. Because there was such a shortage of new hybrids, the dealership was able to make up for the more generous than usual trades by quickly selling the hybrids to new owners.

Now that the shortages caused by the earthquake are beginning to ease, used hybrid prices are on their way back down and the buy-back and sell-again effort at Florida Hybrid is ending. That may mean this unusual form of automotive recycling is done, but it does show that creativity reigns when it comes to selling cars.

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