It is a time unlike any other we have faced. Businesses are shuttered. Factory assembly lines have been halted. Workers have been furloughed. And the stock market has collapsed. Faced with all these challenges that have seemingly materialized overnight, the auto industry has immediately responded by giving consumers good dollars-and-cents reasons to buy vehicles now.
Less than a month ago, the industry was concentrating on February sales that were better than last year’s robust pace. And while experts predicted 2020 car sales might not reach the elevated level of last year, they still expected this year to be a good one for consumers and the industry alike. But the response to the global pandemic has thrown a wrench into those rosy predictions. Now manufacturers hope their just-announced sales incentives will persuade at least some shoppers to complete their deals. Here are the coronavirus-related incentives that major automakers are offering consumers right now.
Fiat-Chrysler — which sells Dodge, Jeep, Alfa Romeo, Ram Trucks, and, of course, Fiat and Chrysler vehicles — is approaching the coronavirus pandemic with two types of offers on a variety of its vehicles across multiple brands.
The carmaker is currently offering zero-percent financing for up to 84 months on a variety of Ram, Dodge, and Jeep vehicles. Chrysler is featuring zero-percent financing for 60 months on 2020 Chrysler Pacifica models. Chrysler will also defer payments for 90 days on non-hybrid Pacifica vehicles. Other Fiat-Chrysler brands are offering deferred payments for 90 days on a selected group of 2019 and 2020 models. Additional regional incentives are also available across a wide variety of the automaker's vehicles.
During the crisis, Ford and its luxury Lincoln vehicles are being promoted with a strategy that eschews zero-percent or other low-rate financing offers. Instead, Ford Motor Company is offering eligible new car buyers up to six months of payment relief. Developed in conjunction with Ford dealers, the new “Built to Lend a Hand” program addresses the need to allay fears in these troubled days in which many feel their livelihood is threatened.
Under the terms of the new program, Ford will pay for the equivalent of three months and customers can defer their first payment for up to three months after that for a total of six months. The program is for qualifying buyers purchasing new 2019 and 2020 model year vehicles, excluding the 2020 F-Series Super Duty. The vehicles must be financed through Ford Credit.
General Motors has chosen to go big rather than going home. The owner of the Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and GMC brands, GM is offering well-qualified customers interest-free financing on a variety of models for 84 months. That’s the longest zero-percent financing offer on record from a carmaker. In addition, buyers can defer the first payment for up to 120 days after signing on most 2019 models still in stock and on many popular 2020 models. The vehicles must be financed through General Motors Financial.
Popular Chevrolet models that qualify for the 120-day payment deferral are the Silverado pickup, Equinox compact SUV, Trax subcompact SUV, and Bolt EV. The Buick Encore subcompact SUV, Buick Envision compact SUV, and GMC Sierra pickup Truck are among the other models that qualify for the 120-day payment deferral. More incentives are available regionally.
Honda and its Acura luxury brand are adopting nearly identical approaches in light of the coronavirus scare. American Honda has announced its Acura and Honda “90 Days to First Payment Program” that features the 90-day deferral of the first payment on all new vehicle sales financed by Acura Financial Services or Honda Financial Services for qualifying retail customers.
In a second program, “Loyalty Purchase Assistance Cash,” the company is offering $500 towards the purchase or lease of a new Acura model and $1,000 toward the purchase or lease of a new Honda model, although some models are excluded from the program. Finally, Honda has announced special interest rates for certified pre-owned Acura TLX and RDX models and Honda Civic, Accord, and CR-V models on deals made from April 17 to June 1, 2020.
Like GM, Hyundai has gone big with its response to the dire economic times. Hyundai Motor America’s Assurance Job Loss Protection is a revival of a program first launched during the Great Recession (2008-2009). It will make up to six months of payments for new Hyundai owners who lose their jobs due to health issues this year and have purchased or leased their vehicles between March 14 and April 30 through Hyundai Capital.
For new customers, the brand is offering zero-percent financing and three months of deferred payments on select new Hyundai vehicles through April 30. As an extra incentive, Hyundai is also giving a complimentary three-month extension of Hyundai’s Blue Link Connected Care service, which includes SOS emergency assistance, roadside assistance, and automatic collision notification, for customers with accounts expiring March 20 through the end of May.
Kia Motors America's approach to the current health and economic crisis is to offer deferred payments along with very attractive loan finance rates. New customers who finance their vehicle purchase through Kia Motors Finance may qualify for a 120-day payment deferral (no payments until July) and zero-percent financing.
In addition, Kia continues to feature competitive percentage-rate, lease, and loyalty programs across the entire model lineup. The all-new Seltos crossover has a $199/month lease offer, while the Telluride crossover — the North American Utility Vehicle of the year — is available at $309 per month. Zero-percent APR loan rates are currently available on the 2020 Forte, Optima, Soul, Sportage, Sorento, Sedona, and Stinger. Additional offers are available regionally.
Nissan, the parent to the Nissan and Infiniti brands, has taken a low-key approach to the crisis with a single big exception. Like several other automakers, it is offering deferred payments to qualified customers. Prospective Nissan buyers have the opportunity to opt for 90-day deferred payments on 60- and 72-month loans. Buyers must meet qualification requirements and be retail customers.
Beyond that, Nissan is offering a variety of special deals and incentives, typically on a regional basis for a wide swath of its cars, trucks, and SUVs. For the customers of the Infiniti luxury brand, details regarding special financing options — typically offered on a regional or local basis — are available by contacting Infiniti dealers by phone or email.
In an open letter to its customers, Subaru President and CEO Tom Doll wrote, “Subaru remains committed to the health, safety, and well-being of our owners.”
If you're looking for a deal, Subaru is offering many of its current incentives on a regional basis. Among the most notable is the offer of zero-percent financing for up to 63 months. 2020 Subaru Ascent, Forester, Outback, Legacy and Impreza models — virtually the entire model line — are included in the promotion. Because some incentives are regional, check with your local Subaru dealer to see what is available in your area.
Toyota is taking a stance similar to Subaru in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Despite the recent tumult, the Toyota brand is continuing with its standard promotions and offers that vary by area. Some popular Toyota models included are RAV4 compact SUV, Camry mid-size Sedan, and Mirai fuel-cell sedan.
In some areas, buyers can defer their first payment for 90 days on vehicles that include Toyota Corolla and Corolla Hybrid compact sedans, Camry mid-size sedan, and Tacoma mid-size pickup. Check with Toyota’s website or with your local dealer to determine what incentives are available in your area. The Toyota “We’re Here for You” television ad, which doesn’t include a sales offer or incentive, focuses on families and future days ahead.