If there are two words that can’t be left out of any discussion of 2010 auto sales numbers, they are “incentives” and “fleet.” With a fleet sales binge well underway, and Toyota recall-triggered incentive wars raging with no end in sight, the spring Truck month rituals have been bounteous. And with sales of full-sized trucks through February trending flat and fragmented, they had to be. But will they make a difference?
GMC and Chevy have seen the fizz go out of their full-sized sales, and are piling on the rebates, and finance deals to move the metal.
Note that the biggest spiffs are reserved for Sierra, which is off nearly six percent this year. And that’s compared to the apocalyptic 2009 numbers.
Chevy is even focusing its Toyota-poaching offers at truck and full-sized SUV buyers… and not Chevy’s main volume (i.e. Camry) competitor, the Malibu.
But the biggest incentives in Detroit come from Chrysler, whose Dodge (or not) Ram is down 26 percent on the year to date. In addition to matching GM and Ford’s zero-percent and cash-back offers, Ram has revived its mystifying “Free Hemi upgrade” incentive. Perhaps it helps Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne sleep at night, as it’s a less obvious way of “buying market share,” a practice he loudly derides in polite company.
But most mystifying of all of this year’s Truck Month incentive-fests, was Ford’s. F-series has been running away from the competition in terms of volume, and Ford’s fleet mix indicates that at least some truck profit has already been sacrificed. But with Toyota leaning hard on car sales with finance and cash deals, every last truck sale is that much more important.