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Deals on New Cars from Japan Could Dry Up Soon

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author photo by Autotrader March 2011

Most automakers in Japan have extended stoppages in production again into a third week after a devastating earthquake and tsunami hit the north eastern part of that island nation on March 11.

Experts are predicting the disruptions won’t be limited to made-in-Japan models, but spread globally since so many companies rely on suppliers in Japan. The situation has already started to impact U.S. automakers. General Motors halted production of the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon small pickups for the week at its Shreveport Assembly plant in Louisiana, citing a shortage of undisclosed parts due to the crisis in Japan. GM said it would restart the plant “as soon as possible,” without providing specifics.

However, even in this dismal global industry scenario, there’s still good deals in place – at least this month – for Americans shopping for new vehicles. Most car companies doing business in this country are in the midst of their spring sales’ events.

But those deals are not likely to be as generous in April, especially on vehicles imported from Japan, said Jack Nerad, executive market analyst at Kelley Blue Book’s kbb.com.

“The deals are quite good in March. There’s a significant number of zero-percent financing, cash back deals and attractive leasing.”

The Honda Fit, which is only made in Japan, can be bought with 0.9% financing or a $220-per-month lease and zero down. The offer is only available on approved credit by Honda Financial Services via participating dealers, and buyers with a lower credit rating will pay more. That offer is scheduled to expire May 2 amid reports that showroom prices on the fuel-efficient Fit are starting to rise a bit just days after the quake.

Mazda, which makes all its models except the 6 and Tribute in Japan, is offering 0% financing for up to 60 months on certain models. But the offers vary by region and expire March 31.

Leases on Nissan’s 2011 Sentra, which is made in Mexico, are $139 per month, with $1,999 down. The Japanese automaker is offering 0% financing for up to 60 months on Nissan and Infiniti models through the end of March, but deals vary by region.

A survey of marketing officials at automakers in this country on March 22 and 23 revealed that most planned to continue non-advertised offers to their own dealers, who then can use their own discretion to pass them along to customers. Marketing Research firm CNW found that the automakers plan to scale back publicized offers to the general public. CNW President Art Spinella said the survey also found that the automakers would continue loyalty lease deals.

On current deals, he singled out Ford’s combined $1,750 rebate on the new Explorer and Kia’s $199 monthly lease on the new Optima. Neither models are made in Japan.

Spinella said Mazda, which has most of its vehicle production in Japan, is in “tough shape” inventory-wise because it didn’t have a lot of inventory at the ports.

 Spinella ‘s advice to car shoppers: “Buy now because the deals won’t get any better.”

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Deals on New Cars from Japan Could Dry Up Soon - Autotrader