This Week in Car Buying: Holiday Sales Events...They're Baack
Well, that didn't take long. The frost is hardly on the Halloween pumpkin and manufacturers, after a week's respite from incentives, are back with a whole new round scheduled to last through the New Year.
While most of the offers have holiday-themed commercials, the bottom line on the offers are fairly similar to levels we saw through the Labor Day sales crunch, though some of the cash offers on 2014 have risen, particularly at Chrysler which is offering up to $5,000 on the 2014 Chrysler 300C ahead of its facelifted 2015 model which debuts next week at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Another Chrysler product with big money on the hood is the 2014 Town & Country, which offers up to $6,250 cash back on 2014 models.
Over at Chrysler's sister division, final closeouts on the 2014 Dodge Charger (2015 models have been facelifted) include up to $4,000 cash, while discontinued 2014 Dodge Avenger sees as much as $3,750. The last of the 2014 Darts also have hefty rebates of up to $2,750. Meanwhile Fiat is offering up to $4,000 on 500 and 500C models.
Nissan is getting ready to launch an all-new Titan full-size pickup at the Detroit show in January, and on 2014 models, the automaker is offering rebates of $2,000-$3,500, while the Murano, which is being replaced by a freshened 2015 model, carries cash back of $500 to $3,500.
What's hot for 2015
As the new model year gets underway in earnest, there are a few new models that are quick out of the block, among them the 2015 Acura TLX. Honda's upscale division is counting on this handsome 4-door sedan to lift its image and boost sales in order to better compete with its Japanese counterparts at Lexus and Infiniti. With just less than two months sales under its belt, the TLX has sold 11,060 units, according to Automotive News, which is more than the TL did in the first 10 months of 2013 and twice the rate of the TSX from the same period a year ago. If TLX is able to sustain its rate it will give Acura a tremendous shot in the arm for passenger car sales, something the division is keen to do to balance its success in the SUV market with its highly popular MDX. Speaking of Honda, the CR-V continues to benefit from the growing compact SUV segment, which has been on an absolute tear. Honda's compact crossover SUV saw sales increase by 30 percent in October and now outsells both Accord and Civic combined.
Meanwhile, on kbb.com, one of the hottest vehicles shopped by consumers is the all-new 2015 Lexus NX, another entry in the growing compact crossover SUV market. According to Arthur Henry, Senior Manager of Market Intelligence, "Lexus leads the way this week. As the hot and growing compact crossover segment continues to trend upwards, Lexus introduces its much anticipated Lexus NX. The RAV4 sized Lexus NX is the first model ever within the brand to offer gasoline fed turbocharging, which is set to deliver on Lexus' fuel efficiency legacy with a performance boost. The NX is positioned to keep Lexus competitive in the performance-oriented crossovers such as the BMW X3 and Audi Q5."
This past week also saw the official start of production for the much anticipated, all-new aluminum-bodied 2015 Ford F-150 pickup truck. It will still be a few weeks before trucks start trickling into dealerships and the Blue Oval is predicting that production won't be in full swing until the second quarter of next year. As a result, expect tight supplies, highly optioned (read expensive) models on showroom lots between now and the spring selling season. If you have to have the latest and the greatest, you'll pay dearly. Bargain hunters can pick over the leftover 2014 models, which have rebates ranging from $500-$1,750 or wait until inventories grow to where there will be more flexibility on the dealers' part to discount.
Big sales numbers means big money
The robust new car market with its rising transaction prices is expected to take consumer spending on new cars to a new high, according to J.D. Power & Associates. The firm predicts buyers will spend a record $407 billion on new cars by the end of the year, up $30 billion from a year ago and a $180 billion increase since the depths of the auto downturn in 2009 when sales fell by over 30 percent. "The industry is performing at a very, very high level," said Thomas King, a J.D. Power vice president. "There's good news on volume, exceptionally good news on transaction prices and therefore record-breaking spending. We broke the record in '13 and we are going to break that record in '14."
Used car corner
Size matters when it comes to shoppers looking for either Certified Pre-Owned from dealerships or used cars in general. According to KBB data, the most popular category of CPO shopping activity is mid-sized cars (13.0 percent of all used car browsers), and of that, nearly a quarter of them are looking for Honda Accords. Also, Midwesterners are more inclined to look for CPO cars than shoppers in any other region. Among used cars in general, the compact category is the strongest, attracting 15.6 percent of shoppers.