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Car market may be up, but deals are hard to find

Updated 11:30 am EST: After a dip in April, there's news just now that sales at Chrysler went up 11 percent in May. Sales of RAM pick up trucks are up 22 percent from a year earlier. As Americans snap up new cars (the average vehicle age in the nation is about 11-years) and switch to more fuel efficient models -- the landscape couldn't be better for car companies. But the deals aren't as sweet for consumers.

Just a few years ago, car manufacturers churned out way more cars than they could sell. So they practically gave them away, with deals like thousands of dollars in cash rebates and zero percent financing. But now?

"Over the past say 12, 18, maybe even as much as 24-months, they've been scaling back on incentives," says George Magliano, senior economist with IHS Automotive. He says that's because car companies are matching production a lot more closely to demand. So car makers aren't falling over themselves to give buyers deep discounts.  

Take GM, for example.

"GM used to be the biggest, we used to spend the most money in the entire industry on incentives," says Jim Cain,  sales communications manager at GM. "We're a lot more disciplined than that."

Cain says incentives to buy are still out there. But until production outpaces demand again, they're going to be a lot harder to find.

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