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SANDY -- The 2010 Utah International Auto Expo has attracted potential buyers from across the state this weekend.

"It's a family tradition. We've been coming for six or seven years," said one attendee.

There's something at the convention, held at the South Towne Expo Center, for everyone, but one of the biggest draws is the selection of new vehicles.

"To see what all the new features are and what everybody's got and to see what the new ones are going to look like," said another car fan.

Nearly 400 vehicles spread over a convention center hall the size of about five football fields. Every size, every color, new cars and pre-owned cars.

There are even directions to find autos that are powered with alternative fuels.

This auto expo, along with dozens of others held across the country each year, really helps propel the nation's automobile industry. After the very difficult 2009 season, everyone is hoping the 2010 shows produce a big rebound.

Potential car buyers flock Utah International Auto Expo

"Just checking out new cars," said a convention attendee. "Always come every year just to see what's new and maybe looking into buying one."

Comments like that are very common this year. Surveys indicate that nearly 90 percent of those attending these shows will make a purchase within a 3-year period. And customers say the expos help them narrow their choices.

The other dynamic in place this year, that dealers and manufacturers believe will kick-start the industry, is that prices are still low. Last year's economic factors forced companies to cut margins and costs. As is often said in the real estate industry, "it's a buyers' market."

"Yes. This is still a very good time to buy a car, and from the manufacturers standpoint, their incentives, rebates etc, are still very attractive," said Brent Brown, owner of Brent Brown Auto Group.

Plus, many people who adjusted their own household budgets and put off making a purchase last year may now be ready to make a move.

"Seems like there's been a lot of pent-up demand," said Brent Bunkall, general manager of Larry H. Miller Ford. "We're seeing lots of trades with higher miles than usual, so they've been waiting and now they're making their moves and making decisions on what to do."

The show runs until 8 p.m. Monday night at the South Towne Expo Center in Sandy.

E-mail: kmccord@ksl.com

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