Ever Wonder Why 2010 Cars Hit Dealers So Early in 2009?

January 4th, 2010

Who wouldn't want to drive this as soon as possible?

Last week we brought you a preview of some cars set to debut in 2010 as 2011 models. It’s an exciting list, with lots to look forward to in the coming months. Check it out if you haven’t already.

Over the weekend I noticed that a fan of CarGurus on Facebook lashed out a little about the article, saying something to the effect of, “We just got to 2010, let’s enjoy it before looking to 2011.”

Ah… if only it were that easy. I’ll explain in a moment.

That comment brought up a good point: why new cars hit dealers’ lots so early in the year. That’s a question I’ve been asked many times, mostly by non-car people, who don’t understand why a 2010 Toyota can be purchased in mid-2009.

The answer, of course, has everything to do with marketing and sales. If dealers had to rely on 2009 model year cars until January 2010, they’d have an overstock of ’09 models in ’10. Who wants to buy a car that looks like it’s a year old, even though it’s still brand new?

By introducing the new model year between August and October, dealers have time to clear out their current model-year vehicles before the year ends. That’s the biggest reason people in the car industry, bloggers and car fans included, have to look forward to the next year as soon as a new one begins.

Other reasons have to do with the marketability that comes with being the first company to bring out a desirable, brand-new vehicle before the competition can.

Now, just because that’s the way it is doesn’t mean that’s the way it should be.

My wife brings up this argument: A car’s model year should correspond to the year in which it was built, like every other consumer product. The Lexus that she bought used in 2009 was built (and probably sold) in 2003, but is a 2004 model. To her, that means there is a whole extra year of mileage that could have accumulated, when her perception is that miles began accumulating in 2004.

As a car guy, I do see her point and hadn’t ever thought of it like that. Releasing new cars early benefits the dealers and automakers, but kind of screws consumers when it comes time to sell the car (especially if a four-year-old car has a good five years of mileage on it).

I like that I can look forward to the release of next year’s cars by mid-summer. My wife thinks the industry should change. Of course, it never will. But do you think it should?

-tgriffith

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  1. john
    January 4th, 2010 at 14:04 | #1

    Can I have my three minutes back? …That was a waste of a read! Common sense!

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