Toyota workers resume production in Georgetown

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Workers on the production line that builds Camrys and Avalons got back to their normal routines for the first time in a week since the massive recall of vehicles over accelerator problems.

Although plant leaders assured workers their jobs were safe, many couldn't help worry about the prospect of long-term trouble. “There's a lot of jobs there, and it would really hurt us, and I think they can get the matter straightened out,” Georgetown resident Brenda Morgan said.

Plant spokesperson Rick Hesterberg welcomed that confidence from the community. “When you're faced with a challenge, sometimes you find out who your friends are, and the outpouring from the community here in Georgetown and in Lexington has just been phenomenal. People calling, saying, hey, hang in there, we know you're going to get through it; we still believe in your product; we believe in your cars. And that's really encouraging when your neighbors tell you that,” Hesterberg said.

Plant workers may be able to relax for now, but a lot of Toyota owners are worried about the value of their cars.

Soon after Toyota announced the recall, car experts like Kelley Blue Book and started telling Toyota owners now could be the worst time to try to sell your car. That’s bad news for Toyota dealers, who are the biggest seller of used Toyotas. That’s why some are sending exactly the opposite message and putting their money where their mouth is.

With sales of new Toyotas down this month, used Toyotas have become an even more critical business for dealers like Steve Gates at Toyota South in Richmond.

In order to keep that business going, and to encourage people to trade in their used Toyotas for new ones, he's buying used models as though the recall never happened. “We've never considered lowering the value of the used car. That's really never come up,” Gates said.

Gates says analysts' calls to put off trading in your used Toyota are misleading. “I don't think any Toyota dealer is backing off. There are not enough of them, so supply and demand dictates that price stays the same. In fact, prices may even rise, and I know this is counter to what Kelley Blue Book is having to say.”

Gates admits his thinking is based on the expectation that the worst is behind the automaker. “We don't feel like the value has declined, and it hasn't for us, and I don't believe that it will, but when Kelley Blue Book or any of these third party entities talk about declining values, it is cause for concern.”