This Week in Car Buying: Chevy Bolt EV credits drop; VW prices Arteon; Ford tests used car site; FCA slows production
Unlike Tesla, which dropped prices $2,000 in response to its federal tax credit being halved, General Motors says there is no price cut coming for the Chevrolet Bolt EV when the credit drops to $3,750 from $7,500 on April 1.
However, the automaker said it is weighing possible incentives on the EV but wouldn’t elaborate on its plans. By crossing the 200,000-unit EV sales threshold, the federal tax credit for electrics begins phasing out. Six months from now it will drop by half again to $1,875 and then be eliminated altogether six months after that.
The 2019 Chevrolet Bolt’s MSRP starts at $36,620 plus $875 destination for an out-the-door base price of $37,595. When using the $7,500 tax credit (which is applied when you file your taxes for the year in which you purchased the vehicle), the price ostensibly drops below $30,000. Chevy is currently also offering a $1,000 cash incentive on the Bolt. However, cutting the federal credit in half effectively pushes the base price up over the $30,000 affordability threshold.
When asked about not cutting prices as Tesla had done, GM spokesman Jim Cain told Reuters that “it is easier to react to the market by working with dealers and your marketing team than it is to change sticker prices,” although he also added that the company is “sensitive to affordability” issues.
The federal tax credit phaseout does not affect any state or local incentives offered on Bolt. GM has announced an aggressive electrification program promising as many as 20 EV models by 2023. The automaker also announced plans to invest $300 million in a Detroit area plant to build a new EV based on the Bolt architecture. However, sales of the pure EV have dropped more than 20 percent in the last two years and Chevy retailed only 18,000 units last year while also announcing that it is dropping the Volt plug-in hybrid. GM attributed some of the drop off in Bolt activity to exports of the vehicle to Canada and South Korea.
VW prices the 2020 Arteon
After a slight delay in its plans to offer the 2020 Volkswagen Arteon, the German make is set to launch this liftback sedan flagship with a base price of $35,845. A slowdown in the certification process was said to cause the delay in U.S. shipments. The new vehicle essentially replaces the CC in the lineup and will be offered in three trim levels, SE, SEL and SEL Premium.
The base front-drive SE comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine making 268 horsepower and includes standard features like 18-inch wheels, LED head- and taillamps, heated seats and an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen. VW’s all-wheel drive 4Motion adds $1,800 to the sticker.
SEL models start at $39,995 for front-drive and $41,795 for 4Motion and includes features like a panoramic sunroof, remote start and Nappa leather upholstery. SEL Premium models are priced from $44,945 and come with standard 4Motion all-wheel drive, 19-inch wheels and ventilated front seats. The sporty R-Line package is available on all three trim levels for $1,295 featuring 19-inch wheels or $1,795 when 20-inch wheels are specified. All prices exclude $995 delivery.
Ford tests used car site
Ford has begun testing a new website listing for used vehicles called Find Your Ford. The new site was developed by two young engineers at the company working through its Ford X project incubator. The idea is to allow shoppers to search used vehicles from multiple dealerships using filters for results based on model, price and features. Ford says the Find Your Ford site eliminates the need to search inventories of individual dealer websites.
“Most people have experienced the frustration of settling for something less than desired,” said Sundeep Madra, vice president, Ford X. The engineers, “working with Ford’s dealers and sales teams, have designed Find Your Ford to provide an easy, comprehensive way to sift through what’s out there to find the perfect vehicle.”
After settling on a vehicle, the customer can schedule a dealer visit for a test drive and as well as work out the details for the purchase. The Find Your Ford program is undergoing testing in the Metro Detroit area using six participating dealers. The program will be expanded to more dealerships and other marketing pending the results of the pilot program.
FCA slows production
Two significant plant shutdowns at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles underscores the automaker’s discipline in keeping supply more aligned with a slowing market. The first, a two-week at hiatus at the Brampton, Ontario, Canada facility in April is in response to dropping sales and rising inventories of Dodge Challenger, Charger and Chrysler 300 models.
FCA said that it is temporarily closing its Windsor, Ontario minivan plant for two weeks in April as well. As part of that announcement, FCA said that it is eliminating its third shift at the plant, which will idle about 1,500 workers who will be offered other jobs or retirement packages. According to Automotive News, the plant can produce up to 1,500 vehicles per day on its three-shift, six-day-a-week schedule.
While it is eliminating the third shift at the plant and reducing minivan output, FCA is expected to retool the plant this summer during its three-week shutdown to produce the all-wheel drive Pacifica, according to the union sources. This means that while the company is slowing output, it’s not entirely giving up on that segment. In addition, union sources also report that the company is working on a replacement for the aging Dodge Grand Caravan as a new entry-level model. Built on the Pacifica platform, the new model is reported to resurrect the Voyager nameplate.
The newest SUV to join the Kia lineup is here. We get behind the wheel of the 2020 Kia Telluride 3-row crossover in this First Review.
Mercedes is set to offer a high-performance version of its new A-Class sedan. The 2020 Mercedes-AMG A 35 is set to make its debut at the New York Auto Show.
The change from letters for it models to actual names continues at Lincoln. Ford’s luxury division is set to launch the 2020 Lincoln Corsair to replace the MKC compact SUV.
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