Foreign automakers ratchet up the incentives

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Foreign automakers that came through the Japanese earthquake in March better than expected are ratcheting up the incentives to grab market share from those who didn’t.

Bloomberg reports the Korean automakers are seeing this time as an opportunity to capture more customers by continuing their incentives. Likewise, Nissan, which came through relatively unscathed in Japan, is ramping up additional incentives on its products.

Even Toyota is now offering “enhanced incentives” on the Camry, Corolla, Highlander, Avalon, Venza and Sienna, according to an e-mail sent to dealers that was obtained by Bloomberg. This is a big shift from just a few weeks ago when the prognosis for Toyota did not look good. Now they’ve realized normal production should resume sooner than expected.

If you can buy a car later rather than sooner this year, you’ll have a much better opportunity to find a deal on a broader number of models. Try waiting it out until the fall, if possible, unless you’re looking at one of the small number of exceptions I’ve mentioned.

For those who want fuel-efficient cars, this is not a good time to buy. With the high price of gas, dealers have been able to increase their profit margins on these sought-after rides. But know this: Gas cycles only last for weeks or months at the most, but a cycle of car ownership should be for years. So if you hold out, your wallet will be better served.

As for Nissan, The Wall Street Journal reports that as of last week, they have more inventory on their lots than the month before. So at a time when you’d expect less inventory because of the earthquake, inventory is actually building, which leaves lots of room for deals.  



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