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Forget about waiting for your income tax refund, now is the time to get a new car, industry sources say.
“Definitely,” said Dan Ringenberg, general sales manager for Fort Wayne Kia. “We don’t want to have to pay taxes on leftover inventory, so there are deals out there.”
Shoppers can save $1,000 to $3,000 on a 2014 Kia Sorento, for example.
“It’s a nice SUV that came out earlier this year,” Ringenberg said. “We also get a lot of business owners coming in trying to get a tax write-off by buying a vehicle.”
Joe Craig is board president of the Automobile Dealers Association of Indiana. He said this time of the year is “crazy.”
“A lot of dealers are anxious to finish off strong for the year,” he said, “and they’re willing to offer discounts besides what the manufacturers are offering.”
Craig said colder temperatures also factor into better deals for consumers.
“Because we don’t get good weather, we lose days and have a shorter selling period,” he said. “This is really one of the busiest times of the year.”
– Paul Wyche, The Journal Gazette
Associated Press
A line of Chevrolet pickup trucks fills the lot of an automobile dealer in Murrysville, Pa. Many dealerships are overflowing with new-vehicle stock, creating some of the year’s best deals.

Prime time for wheel deal

With car lots full, bargains heat up at the end of year

– If the spirit of giving – or of treating yourself – has inspired you to buy a car this holiday season, you’re in luck. Many auto dealerships are overflowing with sedans, trucks and SUVs, so there are deals to be had.

Most dealers have abundant supplies of 2013 models, and 2014s are arriving as automakers keep factories humming. Because dealers pay interest on money borrowed to buy the cars, they’re probably anxious to sell them soon.

“We have a lot of inventory right now,” said Tammy Darvish, vice president of a 21-dealer group in the Washington, D.C., metro area that sells Toyota, Ford, Kia, Chrysler, Volkswagen and other makes.

The December holiday season normally is a good time to buy as dealers clear out old models and salespeople feel pressure to meet year-end targets. Some sales ran early this year as automakers tried to get a piece of the Black Friday retail holiday.

Normally you can get 5 percent to 6 percent off the sticker price when dealing, but that could increase to 8 percent or 10 percent this month, said Alec Gutierrez, senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book.

That means, for instance, you can get roughly $1,880 to $2,351 off a 2014 Chevy Malibu 1LT with a sticker price of $23,510.

Consumers have been in the spirit of buying cars for the past three years. U.S. sales are expected to reach 15.6 million this year, compared with just 10.4 million in 2009. And the latest retail sales figures from the government show that steady hiring and rising household wealth are encouraging more big-ticket purchases.

Cars to look at

The bargains, dealers say, depend a lot on what car, SUV or truck you want to buy. The best deals now are in the small and midsize car segments.

Toyota, for instance, is offering $1,750 cash back on the midsize Camry in the Washington area, and competitors are following, Darvish said. That’s before trying to make a deal.

“I’m seeing some incentives that I have not seen as high as they are,” Darvish said.

Ford dealers nationwide have about a 90-day supply of Fusion midsize cars, while other manufacturers’ dealers have 75 to 80 days of midsize car inventory, Gutierrez said.

There also are some good deals on pickup trucks as Ford, which has the oldest big truck in the market, offers discounts and forces other automakers to follow, Gutierrez said. Ford is offering up to $8,500 off a 2013 Ford F-150 XLT Super Cab with a sticker price of about $30,000.

And don’t ignore some of the hotter segments, such as small crossover SUVs like the Honda CR-V and Ford Escape, Gutierrez said.

Luxury car dealers advertise heavily for the holidays and offer good lease deals. Lexus, with ads that feature giant red bows on car rooftops, is offering to lease an ES sedan for $359 a month for 27 months with $3,200 down.

New discounts ahead

As tempting as it might be to have a gift car sitting in the driveway Christmas morning, Gutierrez says the last weekend of the year is typically when prices are the lowest.

“Everybody wants to hit whatever internal targets they have,” said Scott Fink, CEO of a chain of Hyundai, Mazda and Chevrolet dealers in Florida’s Tampa Bay area. “The ultimate winners are the consumers.”

In addition to the high inventory, there are other factors in consumers’ favor: Interest rates are low and used-car values are close to record highs, making trade-ins worth more.

Also, automakers still are offering sweet lease deals, with leases running at 25 percent of sales, near a record high, Gutierrez said. Electric car lease deals are especially good, he said. Some dealers are offering the electric Nissan Leaf for $199 a month for 36 months with $2,000 down.

If you wait until next year you run some risks. Interest rates might rise and trade-in values are likely to drop a bit, Gutierrez said.

“You’re not leaving a ton of money on the table” by waiting, he said. “But really there’s no time like the present.”