Bargains on autos likely later this year
DETROIT — If you’re holding out for a bargain on a car, you could be rewarded later this year.
Automakers are more likely to offer promotions on certain makes and models — particularly luxury cars, SUVs, and trucks — to clear out their older models and improve year-end numbers.
Overall, the auto industry remains cautious about generous rebates and low-cost loans to lure customers. Newly lean and profitable carmakers don’t want to erode the bottom line by offering too many sweet deals that cut into profit margins.
But as the end of the year approaches, some shoppers, including many Toyota buyers, could find bargains. Even a disciplined industry can’t resist end-of-the-year sales.
So far this year, auto sales have held fairly steady at a level well below what was considered normal before the recession. The automakers held back on rebates in July and August, which are typically big months for promotions, and results were mixed. July sales were slightly better than a year earlier. August sales were the worst since 1983.
Americans are still unsure about the economy, and hesitant to make a large purchase like buying a new car unless they absolutely need to or the deal is too good to pass up, says Jessica Caldwell, senior analyst at consumer website Edmunds.com.
In general, automakers offered more incentives this October than last — about $2,800 per car, a 6 percent increase, according to the car price information service TrueCar. Final estimates won’t be available until tomorrow, when carmakers report US auto sales for last month.
Many automakers kept incentives flat, while others, such as Honda and Toyota, piled on the rebates. Honda’s incentives were double last year’s, and Toyota’s were up 50 percent.
October sales are expected to come in slightly below 1 million vehicles, hitting around 12 million on a seasonally adjusted annual sales rate.