Incentives, incentives everywhere

Incentives are so much a part of today's vehicle marketing strategy that Cars.com has added a Customer Incentives section to its car-buying Web site. It's getting a lot of action as automakers continue to offer hefty incentives, including rebates and 0% financing. Cars.com aggregates the offers and has enhanced the section since the fall of 2001 when 0% first hit the scene. There's also a Top 10 Deals

Incentives are so much a part of today's vehicle marketing strategy that Cars.com has added a “Customer Incentives” section to its car-buying Web site.

It's getting a lot of action as automakers continue to offer hefty incentives, including rebates and 0% financing.

Cars.com aggregates the offers and has enhanced the section since the fall of 2001 when 0% first hit the scene. There's also a “Top 10 Deals” page that features the hottest offers such as a $7,000 rebate on the ‘02 Lincoln Continental or a $3,000 cash-back deal on the 2002 Chevrolet Tracker.

“Manufacturers are once again offering consumers tremendous cost savings and special incentives to maintain the momentum of new car sales that began in the fall,” says Mitch Golub, general manager of Cars.com.

GM — the pioneer of 0% — backed off such incentives briefly. It saw May car sales drop and reintroduced 0% in July, as a result. Zero percent will be used primarily to clear out ‘02 stock, says GM CEO Rick Wagoner Jr.

Some auto companies are trying to keep incentives at arm's length, such as Subaru. The Asian auto maker currently offers incentives of $750 on its ‘02 model Legacy, which is getting replaced by a refreshed ‘03 model.

“Our dealers are telling us not to follow (the other auto makers),” Subaru of America Chairman Takao Saito tells Ward's.

He calls some of the latest incentives “crazy,” including a move by Mitsubishi Motors Sales of America Inc.'s offer of no payments for one year on select models.

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