The end of elections opened the airwaves for automakers to trumpet year-end specials. Now is prime car and truck-buying time. An improved economy combined with the lowest gasoline prices in years make buying a new vehicle even more attractive.
Bloomberg-Business Week reviewed five years of sales showing that December is the top month for total U.S. car sales. About 10 percent of total annual car sales take place this month.
New car and truck sales have been brisk in 2015 but dealers still have 2014 models to sell and make room for 2015 models. Selling both years’ models will enable them to hit 2014 sales and revenue goals.
A storm of holiday-themed commercials with financing and leasing enticements invite you to buy or lease before year-end. Santa Claus enjoys Mercedes-Benz’ “Winter Event” in a red and black sports car; Friendly receptionist Jan welcomes buyers to Toyotathon; Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep/Ram encourage consumers to join the “Big Finish 2014” (their Italian cousin, Fiat, calls it the “Gran Finale.”
Jaguar invites you to “Unwrap a Jaguar” (Naughty Car, Nice Price) while Ford welcomes you to its “Dream Big Sales Event.” Lexus promises this will be a “December to Remember; ” Cadillac says this is the “Season’s Best Event;” and Audi says it’s “The Season of Audi.” “Oh What Fun It Is to Drive” an Acura, and at BMW you’ll have a “Happier Holiday Event.” Honda’s got “Happy Honda Days,” and Lincoln suggests visiting their “Wish List Sales Event.” “Hyundai Holidays” offers some good deals, too.
The direct approach is the thing with Volkswagen’s “Special Offers,” while Nissan and Kia are having a “Holiday Event,” GMC and Buick invite you to “Celebrate the Holidays with Exceptional Offers.” Chevrolet is simply offering a “Year-End Event.”
Catchy name or not, all these sales end soon, usually by the 2nd or 5th of January. But if you come in during these last few days before Christmas you’ll be able to perch a big bow on the roof or hood and give the gift of a shiny new car or truck.
Whether you want to finance or lease a new vehicle there’s lots to choose from. Each manufacturer tailor deals to their stock and the deals vary between 2014s and 2015s, from model to model and among versions within models. It pays to do careful online research to refine what’s offered compared to what you want or need.
Financing deals through manufacturer-owned companies start at 0.0 percent APR and rise incrementally (0.9%, 1.9%, etc.) On some models, the more months financed, the higher the rate: for example, a Lincoln Navigator for 4.9 percent over 72 months. While some manufacturers provide the same financing rate for both 2014 and 2015 models it’s not unusual for 2015s to have slightly higher rates. Most financing contracts range from 36 to 72 months. Besides good rates, many manufacturers offer cash back either as straight rebates – $4,000 seemed to be the highest offered – discounts or “Loyalty Cash” to current owners.
A good holiday lease deal may secure you a more expensive vehicle for a lower monthly price than purchasing will. Leasing makes it possible to acquire a vehicle for less than $200 per month. Most lease deals run about 36 months and most still require some up-front money, but the best lease deals offer zero down/zero due at signing/zero security deposit. A few brands also offer to waive the first month’s payment.
For another year, Subaru offers to make a charitable donation in buyers’ names to the ASPCA, Make-a-Wish Foundation, Meals on Wheels or the National Park Foundation, or a favorite hometown charity. And Chevrolet promises to give $1.00 to the United Way, up to a half-million dollars, if you’ll share its online holiday message on Facebook or re-tweet it on Twitter. Yes, it’s a marketing strategy, but it also allows consumers to feel doubly good about buying or leasing a beautiful, efficient and comfortable vehicle.