Black Friday isn’t just the day to get a great deal on a low-end television or video game system, automakers are fully into the swing of busiest shopping day of the year with a slew of promotions.
Ford, General Motors, Toyota, Lexus and Mercedes are all flooding the airwaves with various Black Friday connected sales as makers look for ways to jumpstart stalled efforts to move metal after months of red-hot sales stalled at the end of the summer.
“We are seeing a tougher pricing environment, higher levels of discounts,” said Ford Chief Executive Officer Mark Fields reported Reuters.
Fields added November and December sales would be about the same as a year ago, when the annualized sales pace averaged about 17.9 million vehicles a year, the organization reported.
Ford kicked off the promotions in early November, but sales are down across the board and it didn’t take long for other makers to jump onboard. GM’s GMC truck brand is promoting “Black Friday All Month Long” with discounts of as much as 20% off list prices for pickup trucks.
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While it’s not unusual to see “Black Friday” promotions for car companies, their luxury units don’t usually start hyping “holiday” sales until December, but Mercedes-Benz and Lexus have both rolled out their Christmas-oriented programs already.
Lexus is offering its annual “December to Remember” deals with 0.9%, five-year loans or $1,000 off on its compact IS 300 sedan in certain markets. Mercedes is also offering low interest rates on several models.
GM’s ongoing promotion with warehouse club Costco added the Chevrolet Corvette: The first time the Corvette has been offered through the discount retailer’s car buying service, a move necessitated by sluggish Corvette sales.
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This smattering of offers isn’t all that surprising as for the most part, it’s the timing of the deals – earlier than normal – rather than the availability that’s unusual. However, if sales continue to slump, more makers may enter the holiday sales fray.
Early estimates from analysts suggest that November sales will top last year’s results, but the overall pace of sales may decline, according to J.D. Power and LMC Automotive. They suggest it may slide to an annualized rate of 17.9 million vehicles from last year’s 18.25 million.
Reuters reports that J.D. Power data on new-vehicle discounts revealed that the average GM discount rose 1% from September to October: $4,700 per vehicle. Conversely, Ford’s average discount fell 10.6% to about $4,400 per vehicle. Fiat Chrysler’s October discounts remained even at $4,920 in October, according to J.D. Power.
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“Incentive levels are near record highs as a percentage of the selling price,” said Jeff Schuster, lead forecaster for LMC Automotive, an automotive consultancy.