Year-end car sales could be 'perfect storm'

Both dealers and consumers are motivated

ORLANDO, Fla. - The typical year-end sales events at local dealerships are not necessarily the best times to buy a new car price-wise, but this year consumers may be in the middle of a perfect storm.

Local dealers say you can thank the economy for that.  The economic recovery, says Jerry Mullinax, owner of Mullinax Ford, is unleashing pent-up demand.  He says people who've been too nervous to spend are suddenly showing up at his dealership ready to buy.

"Some people are starting to do well, and buying as a reward for themselves," Mullinax says. "They've  been rewarding themselves with a nice, new vehicle."

Consumers who are ready to spend are also finding some of the lowest interest rates on car loans in years.  The timing is good all around, because dealers are motivated to get the 2012 model year vehicles off their lots.  It's also the last chance for those dealers to meet of beat their sales goals and objectives for the year.

"We have vehicles that have up to $8000 off," says Cory Shea, owner of Central Florida Chrysler Jeep Dodge. "Our incentives and rebates are higher in the month of December than any other time we've seen so far this year."

Ford dealers, like Mullinax, are offering incentives, as well, like zero percent financing on all 2012 models, and zero percent financing plus a $2000 rebate on Ford F-150s.

Last week the Wall Street Journal reported that a pile-up of inventory has put General Motors, Chrysler, and the Ford Motor Company in a quandary over cutting production or increasing incentives.   Representatives of those companies who spoke to Local 6, however, dismissed that report.

"I can guarantee you Ford is not cutting production anywhere," says Chaun Avery, Ford's Orlando region sales operation manager.  "The 94 Ford dealers I work with are dying for more product.  I get calls daily."

For Shea it's a similar story.

"Excess inventory with Chrysler has not been the case," the dealership owner says. "As a matter of fact, on the dealer level for the first time in a long time, we're reaching out saying 'please get me more cars, please get me more cars.'"

Both Shea and Mullinax describe these final weeks of the year as a rare overlap of a buyers' and sellers' market, with economic forces motivating both sides to make deals.  Dealerships are almost always busier between Dec. 26 and Dec. 31 than any other week of the year, but this year could break records. 

Consumers should look for extended hours. Shea's dealership, for example, will stay open 24 hours around the clock between Christmas and New Year's.

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