Where Are All the Great Deals on New U.S. Cars?

This one's closing for good in December.

This one's closing for good this week.

Today GM announced plant closings of about two months (instead of the usual two weeks) this summer for all its North American operations. The reason for these 13 plant shutdowns is obvious: too much product in the pipeline.

That should translate into fantastic buying possibilities for all you GM-hungry, Chrysler-happy fans out there, right? With all that inventory, dealers should be jumping to give any bona fide buyer the keys. Well, it doesn’t always seem to work that way. While some have reported getting very good deals on cars, our informal Web survey finds just as many who found dealer intransigence, even insult.

As always, you’ve got to be an informed buyer. Do your homework on CarGurus and other sites to see where the bargains really are. The best deals still involve factory rebates, incentives like zero-percent financing, and year-end discounts on ’08 models. Inventory stocks obviously vary from dealer to dealer, so don’t automatically assume they have a glut.

There are numerous stories on the Web about finding either great deals or a great deal of frustration. Here’s a fairly typical one from Bill in New Hampshire:

Well, it turns out that the “new reality” of buying an American car is almost identical to the “old reality”, major recession notwithstanding. As I just learned (again) when an American manufacturer finally produces a “hot” car that could help them take back some market share, they are defeated by their very own dealership network that insists on price gouging. I talk specifically about the new Ford Fusion which, as I speak, is being routinely priced significantly (10%) above MSRP and thereby sufficiently annoying prospective buyers (like myself), who would like to ‘buy American’, to send then right back to the foreign manufacturers.  My experience is not unique and my reaction appears to be the same for 7 out of 10 of my friends, relatives and associates. After interacting with a local Ford dealership here in New Hampshire I am headed right back to Toyota for a Camry Hybrid.

I found lots of stories like that, and of course they don’t all have to do with Fords. Goldman Sachs, incidentally, just gave Ford stock its “buy” rating today.

Not surprisingly, the big market seems to be for used cars. Dealerships make more on used than on new cars anyway and always have. Our advice on new cars: Hang on a while longer, keep shopping, and never be afraid to walk away.

Tell us about your recent car-shopping experience. Did you find a great deal—or a great deal of frustration?


1 Comment

  1. I went car shopping in December and ended up buying a used vehicle, on which I got a great deal at the time. (Christmas is a very slack period for most car dealers.) I haven’t bought a used vehicle in about 30 years, but when I looked at new car and truck prices, I wasn’t impressed. While they’re spending a lot of money on deceptive TV ads that hawk prices that include “rebates” that most customers don’t qualify for, the reality is different when you actually start talking numbers. But let’s be fair and point out the hypocrisy of the customer quoted in the article who was upset because Ford dealers were asking above MSRP prices for the Fusion. He went back to Toyota, whose dealers, of course, were also charging above MSRP for the Prius when it was in short supply. Didn’t seem to phase the buyer, though, did it?

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