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Coronavirus News and Advice for Car Owners and Shoppers

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Sobering times grip the globe as Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), a potentially fatal virus, threatens our communities. In the United States as number of cases and deaths rise, students are being kept home from school, businesses are shuttered or forced to cut hours, and social gatherings, entertainment and sporting events have been postponed or cancelled outright. The stock market’s daily activity looks more like a roller coaster track than a financial report. Without a doubt, these are confusing and uncertain times.

Unclear as to what even tomorrow holds, the automotive industry is left to confront its own questions and navigate through uncharted waters. New car production has been reduced or halted all together. Even passengers in the back seat of your own car might be wondering if they touch the wrong thing might something horrible happen.

We’re here to offer some answers to your potential questions. Check back for regular updates on automotive information, answers, and suggestions.

Incentives | Updates | Tips and Advice

Recently Announced Incentives and Programs

Acura

Current Acura owners and lessees financing through Acura Financial Services may be eligible for payment extensions, payment deferrals, and late fee waivers. Prospective Acura buyers can get 90 days of deferred payments if they finance through Acura plus get $500 in loyalty cash to buy or lease a new model. Acura is running special low-APR financing on CPO TLX and RDX models. Click here for information on how to contact your local Acura Financial Services office.

Audi

Audi Financial Services is offering assistance to Audi owners and lessees on a case-by-case basis and can be contacted at 888-237-2834.

BMW

BMW Financial Services is offering assistance to BMW owners and lessees on a case-by-case basis and can be contacted at 800-578-5000.

Fiat-Chrysler (Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep, Ram)

Current Fiat-Chrysler owners and lessees can make flexible payment arrangements and qualify for payment extensions on a car-by-case basis. For perspective FCA buyers, there’s a special financing promotion for 0% APR financing for 84 months on select Dodge, Jeep, and Ram models. You can also get deferred payments for 90 days on select 2019 and 2020 FCA models. There’s another promo running for the 2020 Chrysler Pacifica with 0% APR financing for 60 months with 90 days of deferred payments. Chrysler Capital can be contacted at 885-563-5635.

Ford

Buyers of a new car from the blue oval can have the option of delaying their first payment for up to 90 days. They’ve also stated that current customers affected economically by the coronavirus should reach out to Ford Credit to discuss delays in payments to assist with financial relief.

General Motors (Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC)

GM is making flexible payment arrangements and payment extensions available on a case-by-case basis. GM is also running an attractive incentive of 0% APR financing for 84 months with deferred payments for up to 120 days on select 2020 models and all 2019 models. GM is also offering home delivery for new vehicles. GM Financial can be contacted at 800-284-2271.

Genesis

The luxury arm of Korean manufacturer, Hyundai, is offering deferred payments for the first 90 days on new vehicles bought from March 14 until April 30. If for some reason purchasers lose their job and are financially affected by coronavirus, buyers can quality for up to six months of payment relief until they get back on their feet. The only Genesis product that qualifies for this program is the 2019 Genesis G70.

Honda

Current Honda owners and lessees financing through Honda Financial Services may be eligible for payment extensions, payment deferrals, and late fee waivers. Prospective Honda buyers can get 90 days of deferred payments if they finance through Honda plus get $1,000 in loyalty cash to buy or lease a new model. Honda is running special low-APR financing on CPO Accord, Civic, and CR-V models. Click here for information on how to contact your local Honda Financial Services office.

Hyundai

Parent company Hyundai offers buyers the same terms as Genesis above, deferred payment for the first 90 days after purchasing a car from March 14 through April 30th and the same payment relief, but with a larger selection of vehicles. Check your local dealer for more details.

Infiniti

Infiniti is making flexible payment arrangements and payment extensions available on a case-by-case basis. Infiniti Financial Services can be contacted at 800-627-4437.

Kia

Current Kia owners and lessees can get up to three 30-day payment extensions on a case-by-case basis. Prospective Kia drivers can get 0% financing for 72 months with your first payment deferred for 120 days on select models. As of this writing, this promotion is running for cars financed by 3/31/2020. Kia Motors Finance can be contacted at 866-331-5632.

Lexus

Lexus is making flexible payment arrangements and payment extensions available on a case-by-case basis. Lexus Financial can be contacted at 800-874-7050.

Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz Financial Services is offering assistance to Mercedes-Benz owners and lessees on a case-by-case basis and can be contacted at 800-654-6222.

Mini

Mini is offering current owners and lessees a 30-day extension for warranty and maintenance plans expiring between 3/16-4/16. If you need assistance on your payments or have a lease scheduled to expire soon, Mini Financial Services can be contacted at 866-646-4463.

Mitsubishi

Current Mitsubishi owners and lessees can get up to 120 days of deferred payments for vehicles financed through Ally. Prospective Mitsubishi buyers can get up to 90 days of deferred payments when you finance through Ally. Ally’s auto division can be contacted at 855-298-2559.

Nissan

Nissan Motor Acceptance Corporation (NMAC) is making payment rescheduling an option for Nissan owners and lessees who need assistance. For prospective owners, 0% APR financing with 90 days of deferred payments is available for select Nissan models. NMAC can be contacted at 800-456-6622.

Porsche

Porsche is expanding its online retail business, offering no-contact sales and service by picking up and/or delivering your car to your home, and offering payment deferrals of 30-60 days on a case-by-case basis. For Porsche lessees with a lease scheduled to mature through 4/30/2020, you could qualify for a six-month extension on the lease. Porsche Financial Services can be contacted at 800-505-1041. Read more details about Porsche's response to coronavirus.

Subaru

Subaru does its financing through Chase and they’re offering payment extensions of up to 90 days and lease extensions for up to six months. For prospective Subaru owners, you could qualify for special 0% APR financing for 63 months on most of the Subaru lineup including Ascent, Forester, Impreza, Legacy, and Outback models. For assistance on a loan, you can contact 800-662-3325 and for assistance on a lease, you can contact 800-644-1941.

Toyota

Toyota is making flexible payment arrangements and payment extensions available on a case-by-case basis. Lexus Financial can be contacted at 800-874-8822.

Incentives | Updates | Tips and Advice

Latest Updates

Delivery jobs open up at Amazon, Domino’s

One of the unintended consequences of the COVID-19 crisis is not just the loss of jobs from closures, but also an increase in demand for delivery employees. Two big players in this pool are Amazon and Domino’s pizza.

In order to keep up with the demand generated from home shopping as people are instructed to stay home, Amazon is looking to hire as many as 100,000 employees to keep up. The jobs include both warehouse workers and delivery drivers.

Likewise, pizza giant Domino’s is looking to add to its numbers. It’s reported that the company will add some 10,000 employees. These not only include delivery drivers, but also pizza makers and store managers.

Nostalgic renaissance of Drive-In theaters?

Social distancing is now the new norm. As traditional brick-and-mortar theaters close amid concerns of containing COVID-19, the public still craves entertainment. And not all Americans are confined to home as they are in big states like California.

As a result, entrepreneurs are looking at bringing back a vestige of Americana, the Drive-In theater. It allows a nation on wheels to go to the movies and social distance at the same time.

While just over 300 of these drive-ins still exist nationally, the Los Angeles Times is reporting that business interests are looking at these venues as a way to reach entertainment-starved families looking for a safe way to get out of the house and enjoy a first-run movie.

The drive-in concept, while old hat for Boomers, may also be a novel way to introduce the concept to a whole new generation. It could also fuel Millennials’ interest in getting drivers’ licenses at an earlier age.

If there's not a drive-in near you, consider some modern in-car entertainment technology for when everything is closed.

Arsenal of Democracy, Part II

During World War II, the U.S. auto industry underwent a massive retooling to provide armaments, planes, and vehicles to the war effort. This great undertaking was called the Arsenal of Democracy. Now several automakers are proposing a sequel where they would devote some of their manufacturing capabilities to make ventilators to help treat victims of the COVID-19 virus.

General Motors and Ford are looking into ways to build medical devices, which are in short supply, as they wait to restart their vehicle assembly lines. Tesla’s Elon Musk has also indicated an interest in producing ventilators as well. It's not known whether the companies would retool existing facilities or set up temporary manufacturing to meet the demand.

Supply chain interruptions worsen

Automakers are facing shutdowns in their assembly operations not just to keep their workers safe, but also because of an inability to get components from stricken suppliers. This is no more so evident than the case of key suppliers from Europe like German-based Continental and Bosch and Italian brake giant Brembo, all of which have shut down operations.

These disruptions have echoed across the ocean and parts shortages affect their North American auto manufacturing customers, who in turn have had to slow or stop production.

It’s not just the Detroit Three, GM, Ford and FCA that’s affected. Mercedes-Benz, which has a huge SUV plant in Alabama, said it may have to shutter those operations on word that Continental and Bosch are closing down production, according to a Bloomberg report. Mercedes wouldn’t be the first U.S. transplant to halt production as Honda, Volkswagen and Subaru have announced closures.

Japanese and US car makers halt vehicle production during COVID-19 emergency

In an attempt to control the spread of coronavirus, Honda, Ford and GM announced that production of their vehicles will be temporarily halted. Factories and workers in Mexico, Canada and the United States will be affected. Expect other automakers to follow suite. But just because they aren’t making cars doesn’t mean you still can’t buy a car. In fact, many dealers are offering incentives to encourage the public to help keep the automotive industry and the economy moving. Check with dealer websites for hours of operation or even special online deals.

Riders can no longer use the shared and pooled ride option with Lyft and Uber

While their regular services will continue, both Uber and Lyft announced that for the time being they will no longer be offering the Pooled and Shared ride options.

Pooled or Shared rides involve splitting a trip, and consequently the fare, with passengers you don’t know. Given the confusion of the spread of COVID-19, its two-week incubation period and that some carriers of the virus show no visible symptoms, sitting in close proximity to a stranger seems a highly risky business, and one that Uber and Lyft take seriously.

Uber took to Twitter to explain their decision. “To flatten the curve of community spread in the cities we serve, we are suspending our Pool option in the US, Canada, London, and Paris.” This is not only true in the United States but around the world. “We are in contact with local leaders globally and expect to take similar action when needed elsewhere.”

Lyft also got on board, saying it, “is pausing Shared rides across all markets. The health and safety of the Lyft community is our top priority.” The ride share company, while still providing a service to those for whom other private or public transportation might not be possible, remains dedicated to help slowing the spread of COVID-19 and, “will continue to monitor the situation closely and base our actions on official guidance.”

Concerned about your next rideshare? Check out our tips for reducing your risk of Coronavirus infection.

Tesla rolls on

Northern California is one area being hit the hardest with several counties being issued a shelter-in-place order imposed on residents and businesses that aren’t deemed essential. But, by all accounts, local automaker Tesla continues to produce their electric vehicles at their Norther California facility in Fremont just south of San Francisco. Whether building Telsas seems mission critical or not, some media outlets have reported that controversial CEO Elon Musk is keeping doors open, though according to some bloggers, he’s operating with a greatly reduced workforce. According to other sources, Musk is instructing employees who might feel sick or are not comfortable coming to work to stay home.

Incentives | Updates | Tips and Advice

Tips and Advice

Are car dealership service departments still open?

In all probability the answer to that is yes. Dealerships in some states may have had to close their public facing sales departments as they have been considered “nonessential”, but services departments for automotive repairs are necessary so remain open. Many dealerships and large dealership groups are offering enhanced services such as vehicle pickup and delivery, modified service hours and increased sanitization efforts. Best to call ahead or check your local dealer’s web site to see exactly what they offer and when they’re open.

For those of us who like to delegate, there is what is called no-contact car service, or concierge car service, which allows your car to be picked up and serviced without you ever having to leave the comfort of your own home.

Looking for more information? Find out what to expect when buying or servicing your car during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Can I buy gas?

Gas stations also fall under the “essential” category for businesses. In order for commerce to continue to flow as normally as possible, accessibility to fuel might be one of the most essential items Americans need now.

While many people are able to telecommute, there are lots of people still on the road, and there is some good news. Because of economic uncertainty and in the wake of the global pandemic crude oil prices are low and gas prices have fallen. The national average was 32 cents a gallon higher last year at this time than it is now.

Read our tips on how to avoid contracting the coronavirus at the gas pump.

Is it even possible to buy a car right now?

Depending on what your local officials are permitting, the answer is yes. While more and more car dealerships are closing their in-person sales, many dealers are enhancing their online sales efforts and services such as test drives that come to you and/or 100 percent online purchase with delivery of your new or used car. You might even be able to find “Online Only” deals. Before you head out of the house, we suggest calling your local dealership or check out their website to find out if they’re open, and if so, how they’recomplying with government policies and serving their customers.  Also, be sure to check out some of our tips for buying a car entirely online and reducing the risk of infection while buying a car.

Is there a best way to purchase a car during a pandemic?

There is a strong likelihood that if you need a car in these uncertain times you can still purchase one. Check with your local dealership about hours of operation. If they’re not open, they might direct you to their website. Regardless of whether you walk into a brick and mortar dealer or use your keyboard, there are always good things to know when buying a car. Here is some additional information about car shopping during the coronavirus outbreak.

What about buying used cars?

All car dealerships should be observing instructions by local and federal governments during these extraordinary times. While some of them may remain open, depending on the areas these dealerships are in, others might be deemed “nonessential” and ordered closed. Regardless of whether you buy a used car in person or online, there are some good tips to know before making a used car purchase.

Is leasing or buying better in financially uncertain times?

Regardless of a public health crisis, the decision to buy or lease a car is always a highly debatable one. How you’re going to use the car, the number of miles you’re planning to put on it, if you’re expecting your family to grow, or whether you plan to modify it or not are all questions to consider. Given the volatility of the stock market, long-term financial decisions could be a factor for you, too. For more information check out our advice on whether leasing or buying is best for you.

Is this a good time to finance?

The short answer to that is yes. The Federal Reserve just cut interest rates and the government will most likely take sweeping action in the coming days and weeks to avoid a recession, especially with a presidential election looming. If you’re in a position to finance a vehicle there should be some enticing incentives to encourage you to do just that.

Where can I find some good deals right now?

New incentive programs from dealers are changing daily in response to the COVID-19 situation. Check back here regularly for updates, and be sure to check out our curated deals for other additional incentives.

Should I sell my car now?

Even under normal circumstances, selling a car can be a hand-wringing scenario. Add a global pandemic where “social distancing” has become the norm and you might not want to deal with the stress if you don’t have to. However, if it’s a necessity now, there are many different options for selling your car that might prove helpful.

Some general information on COVID-19

Our 24-hour news cycle seems to be shrinking by the minute. The one thing we do know is that everything is changing quickly and staying informed is our best defense. For more information the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have developed a resource page to answer questions and give assistance on what to do if you’re sick and how we can best prevent the coronavirus from spreading. 

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