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Buying & Leasing a Car

Automakers Rev Up Sales Incentives

Rebates and 0% financing are in the offing -- but they probably won’t last long.

Automakers are again digging into their bag of tricks and offering hefty cash rebates, 0% financing and other incentives to juice sales that turned soft after car production was beefed up in the spring.

The deals are coming in the wake of auto executives’ concerns about the growing volume of unsold vehicles, which began climbing midyear, following six months or so of steady declines. Automakers and dealers want to take steps now to minimize an inventory backlog of unsold 2010 models that could slam sales of 2011s. Next year’s models will start rolling out by the millions in late September.

Virtually all of the major automakers are dangling come-ons to get people to buy a new vehicle this summer. General Motors is boosting cash-back deals on its hot selling Impala car by one-third, to $4,000 per vehicle, and is offering no-interest loans on its Cadillac CTS, DTS, STS and Escalade models.

Ford and Lincoln buyers can get 0% financing, or cash rebates ranging up to $5,000 per vehicle, plus free scheduled car maintenance. Chrysler offers a 60-day money-back guarantee on its Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep brands. Buyers are also eligible for a $1,000 rebate on any Chrysler vehicles kept after 60 days and financed through the car company.


Toyota has ramped up rebates to as much as $2,500 on the Tundra pickup truck and is offering 0% financing on 60-month loans for many vehicles. Other automakers offering rich summer sale incentives include BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Porsche, Subaru and Volvo.

But incentives are likely to have a short shelf life -- or so automakers hope. Manufacturers are determined not to fall into the same state of constant cash-back warfare that ate into their profits for a decade. They’ll end the come-ons at the first sign that sales are picking up.