A revived version of Nissan's legendary Z car returns with great expectations to the market place this summer, prompting questions about how much buyers will end up paying.
There's no question as to the manufacturer's suggested retail price. It ranges from $26,269 for a base unit to $34,079 for the Track Model 6MT.
Nissan executives predict the new 350Z vehicle will get MSRP on most transactions. Their concern is that some dealers may charge customers much more.
“We expect most dealers will do the right thing and sell the car for the MSRP,” says Fred Suckow, a senior marketing manager for Nissan North America.
Those that don't risk alienating customers for both themselves and the auto maker, he says.
The Ford Thunderbird — which last year was a hotly awaited resurrected nameplate — commanded prices well over sticker when it debuted.
One Ford dealer took heat for charging $16,000 above the T-bird's $39,000 suggested retail price. About a year later, Ford dealers still are getting on average $5,000 over sticker for the T-bird, says Suckow.
He suspects such premium pricing won't occur with the new Z car.
For one thing, its first year volumes are high — 33,000 expected units. The pipeline is expected to fill up fast.
He adds that dealer margins for the 350Z (about $2,500 per unit) are enough to discourage serious price gouging.
Nissan took the unusual step of announcing the Z's price six months ago, rather than conventionally timing it closer to the launch.
“We did that for a number of reasons,” says Suckow. “Mainly we wanted people to pre-order the car.”
But it also had the effect of keeping the price from getting out of control.
From January to June, dealers have taken about 6,500 early orders for the 350Z. It starts hitting showrooms in August.
Most of those early orders are not over sticker price, says Suckow. However he notes that dealers as independent entrepreneurs can price the car as they see fit.
Many dealers say such situations are supply-and-demand issues. If they are expected to sell cold cars at little or no profit, they consider it appropriate to sell hot cars at what the market brings.
They also point to situations wherein they don't charge a premium for a hot new product, only to have the customer turn around and sell the early-production car to a third party for a hefty sum.