By on April 3, 2011

Dan writes:

Sajeev,

I don’t know if this adds up to material for one of your columns but here you go if you want it. I am shopping for a new WRX wagon.  These are pretty rare around here, hunted to extinction.  I’ve been checking around and the number in inventory at the typical dealership is between zero and two.  The local dealership wants to charge me MSRP, as well they might, but they have a new narrative to go with this: the factory was shut down in Fuji and there’s going to be a gap in deliveries.  Is this hooey?

Sajeev Answers:

How much do you want to bet that ride’s been sitting in inventory–waiting for someone gobsmacked by it’s allure–before the tsunami?  It’s possible, maybe even probable. And that is the “problem” with cars like the WRX, dealers know you want one. And they got you by the short hairs.

Much to my dismay, the Marketing to Fear is back in full force.  I’ve seen Japanese car dealers insist prices are going up, so buy NOW before the new inventory goes up in price.  And many a dealer with fuel efficient models run ads encouraging you to trade your gas guzzler and get a 35 to 40+MPG compact, before your trade-in value tanks and tiny cars skyrocket in demand. That’s so nice of them, what a great community service they’re offering!

That points to a bigger problem with dealer service: inconsistency. One person can ruin a decades long reputation for quality, transparency and honesty at a “good” dealership.  Employee turnover is high in this business for a reason. But perhaps my Texas centric thought is off base, so let’s get an International Man on the case.

Bertel Schmitt Answers:

Any real supply problems should start in the coming weeks, as no car carriers had left Japanese port after 3/14. But I guess they charge what they can, knowing that there won’t be any cars for quite some while.  Japan will lose at least a full month of production. Then, they’ll make the big sellers, the niche cars will fall by the wayside. Or not, it all depends on parts availability.

Send your queries to mehta@ttac.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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46 Comments on “Super Piston Slap: Subaru’s Marketing of Fear...”


  • avatar

    Have you done the “play dealers against each other” email back-and-forth yet? I was able to get it down to $800 below invoice when I placed an order for one late last year.

    • 0 avatar

      My mother was a master at this in the days you had to do it on the phone

    • 0 avatar

      Brilliant analysis of inventory, AndAfter. Now make it relevant. Explain how that has any relevance to the Marketing of Fear. How does the tsunami+Subie’s historically (at least in the short term) low inventory change supply and demand at this very moment? Was the dealer justified in saying that?

      Because that’s the point. And, as you are more interested in slamming me than answering this guy’s quandary, it feels like you missed it.

    • 0 avatar
      Jimal

      Sorry Sajeev, but I don’t see the issue. The dealer is “only” charging MSRP and making what is probably a factual statement about supply interruptions due to the quake/tsunami. It is only the “marketing of fear” if the dealer is using hedge words like “there MIGHT be a gap in deliveries.” The example Dan describes is nothing like the examples you provide in your answer. It isn’t the “marketing of fear” if what the dealer is saying is factually correct. Contrast what Dan describes to what Chevrolet dealers were doing when the Camaro came out; charging a premium above MSRP for a car they knew they were going to have plenty of in the future because the car was “in demand”.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      Jimal -
       
      The Chevy dealers knew they would be getting more Camaros, but that didn’t change the fact that at the time of the big mark ups there were only a small amount available.  Most of those who bought Camaros early on above MSRP likely knew that they would be able to buy the car at a significant discount in another several months to a year, but if it was worth it to them to pay a higher price to be the first to have it, and the dealers were able to sell the few cars they had to people like that, it’s just good business.

    • 0 avatar

      Jimal: The example Dan describes is nothing like the examples you provide in your answer. It isn’t the “marketing of fear” if what the dealer is saying is factually correct.

      True, yet I have serious doubts that the dealership knows the scope of the supply interruptions.  The first sentence in Bertel’s comments also casts a shadow of doubt.

      Contrast what Dan describes to what Chevrolet dealers were doing when the Camaro came out; charging a premium above MSRP for a car they knew they were going to have plenty of in the future because the car was “in demand”.

      That’s a market adjustment, or price gouging…depending on your perspective. Early adopters to any new product are likely to pay more. No natural disaster or fluctuation in gas prices will change that (probably), unlike what is brought up here.

    • 0 avatar
      Jimal

      NulloModo: It’s business. I don’t know if I’d call it good business.
      Sajeev Mehta: On your first point, disruptions seem to be common knowledge or at the very least common sense considering the scope of the tragedy. If the WRX were being produced in Cuidad Juarez instead of Fuji and the dealer was using the delivery gap ploy or adding a surcharge to the MSRP I’d be a bit more weary. To your second point, I call it gouging. I also think the short term surcharges lead to steeper incentives later.

    • 0 avatar
      AndAfter

      Sajeev… are you kidding me? The plants in Japan have been shut down since the 11th. That means what the dealers have now is all their going to have for awhile. Why on earth would you sell what you have now at a discount without being able to get more and not knowing when you will get more? It’s not like the dealer is putting markups on the car. Do you read the automotive news? Subaru has CONSISTENTLY been on the list for top 5 automakers with the lowest days supply of vehicles since cash for clunkers. The article I linked from CNN Money is more fear marketing than what you’ve spun on the dealer. There was a similar article in USA Today, but I can’t find it now. On top of that, your article is the COMPLETE OPPOSITE of what the the person who wrote in is depicting. Dealers are not wanting to sell the cars now unless they can make more money on them. They aren’t telling people to buy now or the price will go up, they’re saying they’ll hold onto the car and hold out for higher offers than what would have previously been the norm. Get a clue Sajeev. You spun this article and went in a direction completely in the other direction of what was asked. Do some research before you give your opinions. At least then you’d seem more credible.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      Jimal -
       
      Just to play devil’s advocate for GM dealers in the Camaro scenario (OT, but Camaro Scenario sounds like the title of a bad action movie) the dealers had a situation where they knew initial demand was going to far outstrip initial supply.  The way I see it, they had a few options:
       
      1. Put the cars out first come first serve at MSRP.  This feels fair on one level, but it would have created a mad rush, left a ton of money on the table, left repeat customers of various dealers feeling unappreciated and left out if they weren’t given priority, and led to plenty of people buying them then sticking them on Ebay with big mark ups.  Early adopters would have still gotten gouged (other than whichever lucky people got some of the first cars who actually intended to keep them) but the dealers wouldn’t have gotten anything from it but ill will from the customers who didn’t get a car.
       
      2.  Give previous GM or Camaro owners priority.  This is what Ferrari et. al seem to do with some of their super pricey (market adjusted from the factory) limited edition vehicles, but it might have sent the wrong message for the Camaro, which is supposed to be more of a blue collar everyman’s car.  This could have turned off potential new-to-GM owners, a demographic that I’m sure GM was hoping to heavily court with the Camaro.
       
      3. Some sort of lottery system where people get the chance to buy one at full price.  This really ends up being a lot like the first scenario, though possibly with less ill will towards the dealer if people were reasonable enough to understand the situation (which is a big if).
       
      4. Let the dealers mark the cars up until the supply, price, and demand reached equilibrium.  This is what ended up happening, and it was probably the most fair approach.  Those who wanted the cars the most, and were therefore willing to pay far over the actual value, got to get the cars, and others could just wait patiently until the prices came down to levels that they were comfortable with. Plus, it threw a bone to the dealer network, which having had to deeply discount many vehicles for a long time, plus take on the costs of closing down shuttered GM brands in the case of multi-brand dealers, is something they really needed.

    • 0 avatar

      AndAfter: The plants in Japan have been shut down since the 11th.

      Which plants? How do you know which plants are affecting Subie WRX assembly lines, and what their current queue of inventory is at these plants? How do you know how close to WRX shutdown we are?

      AndAfter: Why on earth would you sell what you have now at a discount without being able to get more and not knowing when you will get more? ‘

      Not my point.  Subaru has been “consistently been on the list for top 5 automakers with the lowest days supply of vehicles” but why on earth play the new narrative that the OP is mentioning? They don’t need to mention the events in Japan for it.

      Dealers are not wanting to sell the cars now unless they can make more money on them. They aren’t telling people to buy now or the price will go up, they’re saying they’ll hold onto the car and hold out for higher offers than what would have previously been the norm.

      Again, they’ve always done that.  The tsunami excuse is a tough pill to swallow, so quickly after the event. Parts inventory may or may not be out yet, but the odds of the dealer knowing that right now? Not likely.

    • 0 avatar
      Bob12

      +1 to Sajeev for responding to AndAfter’s flame instead of just deleting it.
       
      @AndAfter: “it’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it.” If you believe Sajeev’s post is total nonsense, a dispassionate response is much more likely to win people over to your side. Taking the vitriol out of your comments makes it much easier for readers to compare your viewpoint with Sajeev’s.
       
      P. S.: Sorry if I sound preachy, but I’m getting really tired of flamewars (on any Web forum, not just TTAC).

    • 0 avatar

      Thank you Bob. I appreciate that.

    • 0 avatar
      Jimal

      NulloModo,
      You’re forgetting the part where the dealers get TOO greedy, the cars go unsold and bad will is created. That is certainly what happened with Pontiac and the G8. I remember that conversation a couple years ago. Whether it is a sound business decision from a short-term “gettin’ while the gettin’ is good” point of view or not is my question when it becomes a wash (at best) 6-12 months later when you’re putting money on the hood to sell the same car and your early adopters feel like they were taken.
       
      I see these things from a customer service point of view, which is my background, rather than from a strictly sales point of view.
       

    • 0 avatar
      AndAfter

      Sajeev… this is where you are speaking out of turn without facts. Google subaru earthqake or Fuji Heavy Industries Earthquake.
      from FHI: “Tokyo, March 31, 2011 – Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. (FHI), the maker of Subaru automobiles, announced today
      that it has decided to extend the production suspension of all passenger vehicles (except mini-vehicles) at
      Subaru plants in Japan until Tuesday, April 5, considering the influence of its suppliers in the affected areas as
      well as conditions of electric power supply. FHI previously announced its production suspension until March
      31.”
      This is the 4th production delay since the earthquake and it very well may move again.
      1) All 5 of Fuji Heavy Industries plants shut down after the quake.
      2) All WRX’s and STI’s are made in Gunma prefecture in Japan which is one of the affected plants
      3) WRX’s and STI’s were in short supply before the quake
      4) WRX’s and STI’s have not been produced for almost a month
      5) Fuji has pushed the start of vehicle production date back 4x already since the earthquake
      The Wallstreet Journal and the automotive news have both directly mentioned Subaru being severely affected by the stop of production. Subaru has less than a 1 month’s supply of WRX’s and STI’s in stock. With a month’s lag of production, that means most dealers are going to run out before new vehicles are made available. And once production starts, there’s still the lag time of the vehicles being shipped across the Pacific, inspected/accessorized/staged at port, and then being shipped by rail and truck to the dealerships.
      Here’s an article from edmunds mentioning Subaru. http://www.autoobserver.com/2011/03/quake-aftermath-severe-deep-auto-sector-impact.html
      Notice the chart that showed Subaru with 31 days supply of Impreza? Now keep in mind that includes WRX and STI and both of those vehicles turn significantly faster than the base Imprezas they are lumped in with. This article was written before the end of March… the March where Subaru sold more vehicles than in any other month in its history other than August Cash for Clunkers. That means supply is significantly lower than what it was at the time of the article. Dealers order new vehicles well in advance of them being available on the lot. With the plant idled, its evident that they are not able to order replacements for ATLEAST a month. It won’t be until NEXT month for back up vehicles to be ORDERED. It will then be another 6-8 weeks for those vehicles to arrive. So now we’re looking at late June for the dealers to replace vehicles sold today that they will probably be out of before month’s end. There was absolutely no “Marketing of Fear” in what the letter described. It was simply a dealer asking for MSRP because there is no reason to discount when he’s not getting a replacement anytime soon.
      To answer the person who wrote the letter’s question “The local dealership wants to charge me MSRP, as well they might, but they have a new narrative to go with this: the factory was shut down in Fuji and there’s going to be a gap in deliveries.  Is this hooey?“… No, it’s not. The dealer told the truth. Any number of very credible sources will corroborate the story.
      Wallstreet Journal: “At Subaru of America, which markets all-wheel drive cars made by Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., inventories were tight before the quake and are now headed below 30 days’ supply, says spokesman Michael McHale.

      The rolling blackouts ordered by the Japaneses government to offset the loss of power produced by the crippled Fukushima Daichi nuclear complex have made it hard for Fuji to restart production, Mr McHale says.

      That means tight supplies, for now, of popular Japanese-made models such as the Impreza WRX or Forester.”
      That being said, this won’t be the road every dealer takes… but was this particular dealer full of it for saying what he said to the customer? No… It makes legitimate business sense.

      My tone comes from that fact that this is propaganda, uninformed opinion, completely on a tangent to the letter it’s addressing,  and downright bad journalism.

    • 0 avatar

      AndAfter: you brought up good points that answered my concerns, that’s what I was asking for.  I’m fine with being wrong if someone plays nice when they correct me, and this is one of those times.

    • 0 avatar
      Norma

      I’ll add my two cents.
      1. On March 18, Nissan said there were “more than 1,500 Nissan LEAF vehicles either in transit from Japan or at port in the U.S.”,  including a shipment of more than 600 left Japan on March 10. By the end of March, the shipment of more than 600 arrived at the west coast. (IIRC, Nissan delivered less than 300 LEAF in March.)
      2. Unless Subaru/Fuji operates in a drastically different model, there would probably be one month’s supply in the pipeline, in addition to those already on dealers’ lot.
      3. Many Infiniti dealers still reported normal delivery at end of March/early April, but expects deliveries, more or less, to dry up this month.
      4. Therefore, the real shortage has not begun, yet. But, human, being rational, operate in their best interest based on expectations.
      5. It’s a game. Dealers want to maximize their profits, and they’re betting they can lure enough suckers before things return to ‘almost’ normal during the summer/shortage got sort out as customers deflect to other camp.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Subaru routinely sells at or just under MSRP. Among “mass market” automakers, Subaru has the lowest incentives in the industry:

      “Comparing all brands, smart spent the least in March at $453 per vehicle sold , followed by Subaru at $532. … Porsche, meanwhile, spent the least at 1.2 percent, followed by Subaru at 2.0 percent.” (Edmunds).

      Porsche and Subaru cater to well-educated customers who choose the buy their cars more because of the car, not the deal. Like Porsche, Subaru sales are capacity limited, meaning, they can’t sell more cars because buyer demand is higher than production.

      With the known reduction in capacity (Fuji Heavy Industries shut down *all* Subaru factories in Japan immediately after the earthquake), what he has is what he can sell.

      For a desirable, hot car like the WRX being offered at MSRP, that’s a *very* fair price. As others note, this isn’t a Chevy dealer who routinely puts $1000s on the hood of the car. Most other stealers would tack on substantial ADP to cover the bigger discounts needed elsewhere in the line.

      Given the context of the company, the Subaru dealer is being straightforward with the buyer about the facts of Subaru production. There’s no fear or anything. The Subaru dealer knows he’s in a strong position, and he will get MSRP for the WRX, the only question is to whom he sells.

    • 0 avatar
      Norma

      From Autonews:
      Not that short supply is all bad for dealers. With short supply come higher prices.
      “A Toyota dealer in California, who declined to be named, said: “I’d rather sell 300 cars at a profit than be pushing 400 out the door.”

      BTW, there will be three more shipments of Toyota vehicles delivered to Jacksonville Fl in April. (From vehicles already at ports or in transit from the factory when the quake struck.)
      The quake struck on March 11. Like I said previously, unless Subaru operates drastically different from other Japanese automakers, there are still vehicles in the pipeline and any ‘shortage’ is just fear mongering.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Have you tried “Search AutoTrader for the NEW Subaru of your choice and options”?  Figure out how many miles your willing to travel for one and start looking.  Maybe you’ll find that sweet spot of price and options. 

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      Definitely. You need to find that dealer with the WRX wagon that has been sitting there for 6 months eating into their floorplan. Ask for the invoice and check the date to see how old the car is.

  • avatar
    dwford

    It’s simply the law of supply and demand. Dealers know that their supply has been interrupted, so why would the want to discount their remaining stock when they know that there aren’t any more coming for a while?
     
    High performance cars are tough. On one hand, not many people want them, so you’d think you could get a deal, but on the other hand the dealer knows the YOU want them, so they hold firm. Of course, since you are one of the few that want one, don’t expect top dollar at trade in time, when the receiving dealer is worried about how long the car will sit on the lot until someone like you comes along again.
     
    If you want a deal, there are plenty of less desirable models with big discounts available out there.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    If I were a dealer right now I would not be discounting any models which are assembled in Japan  given the near and mid term supply expectations. Supplies of many models are indeed going to come up short in the months ahead. On the other hand, I also would not play the “added dealer markup” or “market price conditions adjustment” game either. So yeah, I would be selling WRXs @ MSRP.
     

  • avatar
    zeus01

    Or do what I did: go online to the forum for the make and model you wish to buy, and ask others how much they paid out-the-door. Once you find the best everything-included price paid ask which dealership provided this vehicle. Then E-mail that dealership with the name of the person who bought that car and the out-the-door price paid and ask them to match it, adjusting your offer to accomodate differences in options vs. the example gleaned from the forum.

    My car was a new design and in short supply/ big demand when I was shopping for it. MSRP was $20,280, Frieght/PDI was $1300, enviro fee was $100 and desired (by me) dealer options was $1075. GST (tax. This was at 5% in Alberta, Canada) on all of this would have been $1137.75, for a grand total of $23,892.75… IF I had simply paid full MSRP and all applicable taxes, fees and dealer back-end crap.

    Instead, my out-the-door price was $22,344.40, a savings of over $1500…. on a Honda.

  • avatar

    I agree with Houston. I recently helped my mom with a Hyundai Santa Fe purchase and did it via internet. I got four great prices while still in my bathrobe. No hassle, no games, just the best price. If they want your business, they will track down the car.

  • avatar
    UnclePete

    In a related way, I got an email from an Infiniti dealership, playing the same fear card (“Oh no, no cars from Japan! Buy now before we have to raise our prices!)
    I sent them back an email, asking them to remove me from their email list, as I would never buy any car from a dealership that is going to play that sort of overt game.

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    Dan, where are you located? I was getting the Outback serviced and walked around the lot yesterday, here in Boise, with several WRXs on the lot with a little off ($500). However, you tell them you’re considering the WRX among other vehicles…which may not be exactly competitive but still worth a look at $25k+.

    Yes, I do go to the dealer for oil changes…it’s free for another 2 years. And out of pocket would cost me $25, which isn’t much more than doing it myself but saves alot more time. Plus, I can stroll through the new car lots and just say, me car is in for service.

    • 0 avatar

      Have you seen any 5-doors in the Boise area lately (I am about an hour out of Boise)? I’m sort of in the market for one, and I have been looking around on Autotrader and Cars now and then, and all I ever see are sedans. Sometimes a 5-door will pop up, but they always seem overpriced to me. This is a different Dan, by the way.

    • 0 avatar
      TEXN3

      There were a few on the Larry Miller lot. You can keep an eye on their inventory at http://www.boisesubaru.com or maybe Team Mazda-Subaru in Nampa has some.

      I’ve seen a few used ones (if you’re going that route) on Craigslist too.

      But, I agree that the 5-doors tend to carry a premium, yet all the STi fans say they only want a 4-door!

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah, I remember seeing a few a while back – there was one in particular that I remembered that was right around $25k – should’ve jumped on it. Yeah, I have a few WRX searches saved on my google reader, so I get a notification whenever there is a new one posted (considering used, but they seem to ask enough that going new wouldn’t be that much more). Thanks for the links.
      Yeah, never got that either. And then there are also a lot more 4-doors on the lots (or so it seems – maybe production is just lower…). Beats me!

  • avatar
    mazder3

    Do you have your heart set on a wagon or could you go with something a bit different? This model has been sitting on the dealer’s lot for at least a month now and they might be willing to haggle:
    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/03/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-put-that-top-back-on-edition/

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Ah yes a blast from our past “questions no one asked” file.

      Nice avatar mazder3, so does that make you our official anti GM troll now?  (BTW an avatar sugestion for ”some other” poster https://www.ihearyasureyado.com/store/item_images/Chevrolet_Tahoe_Z71_Off_Road.jpg it’s even square which makes a perfect avatar. 

    • 0 avatar
      mazder3

      EducatorDan
      Nah, being an official anti-troll gets tiring. I don’t know how they can do it day in and day out. Trolling is fun when one is in the mood and one is not expected to do it. Besides, there are a few of the B&B who could already claim to be the official anti-GM troll and I’m not itching for a fight with them over it! :)

  • avatar
    Zackman

    It’s always wise to have more than one car and/or model you are interested in for the exact reason above. If the dealers are playing games, go somewhere else, as it is your money and don’t let anyone else try to spend it for you!

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      This is good advice. Tell the dealer you’re cross shopping something like a GTI or a Genesis Coupe. Neither of those models have the supply chain issues that Subaru may have right now. If they can’t deal on a WRX, you’ll buy a different car than the WRX.

  • avatar
    NulloModo

    I have no idea how prevalent WRX wagons are on Subaru lots, but it does make some amount of sense that if there aren’t a ton of them out, that supply could become extremely limited if production has to be stopped, so prices going up when supply dwindles and demand stays steady makes sense.
     
    On the other hand, the dealer could be willing to sell the car under MSRP, but just gave you that line to see if it would work.  With any negotiation the seller starts high, the buyer starts low, and hopefully a mutually agreeable price can be reached somewhere in between.  Try going back again, make it clear you are interested in buying the car right now for a certain price, and see if they budge.  It could be that the dealer has a policy not to discount WRXs.  If the higher ups have set it in stone that the cars aren’t to be discounted, your salesperson won’t be able to do it no matter how much he may want to, in which case shopping around by submitting requests for quotes to other dealers could end up finding you a place to buy the car.
     
    At my dealership the question the management asks themselves to determine how to discount a car is ‘can we replace this after we sell it’.  We’ve so far only been selling new 2011 Explorers at MSRP, and though we’ve had a couple people decline to purchase because they wanted a discount, we’ve still sold every Explorer that we’ve been able to get our hands on.  The dealer most likely won’t be willing to discount a vehicle that they won’t be able to replace on the lot before they find someone else willing to pay full price.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      On average, Subaru puts about $500 on the hood of their cars – second only to Porsche.

      All Subaru cars are “hot”, with some (like the WRX hatch) being “hotter” than others (Tribeca), and nearly all cars being capacity-limited. With Gunma stopped, there’s going to be a disruption eventually – Subaru was at capacity before the earthquake, so it’s not like they’ll be able to make up the lost production in an easy way.

      In all likelihood, Subaru dealers simply don’t discount the WRX (no need to). But if Dan wanted a better deal, he could ask for an out-the-door price and see. $200 off would be better than nothing, and he’d get the car.

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    Another thing is that 2011 is coming to a close. Strange but true. The 2012 turnover happens in June/July and depending how much of a difference between models it could be rather bare shelves for a lot of models this year.

  • avatar
    Darth Lefty

    Thanks for your thoughts, everyone!

  • avatar

    Gentlemen:
    It would be highly appreciated if everybody would stay within the very loose bounds of civility here at TTAC. Please observe the “but how you say it” part as mentioned above.
    Simple rule: If you would not say it into the face of the person, don’t type it.
    The initial post by AndAfter has been moved into the penalty box. Repeated outbursts of incivility will be treated with the ban hammer.
    As for the facts: There are two people who answer the initial question. The second is me. The supply disruptions were mentioned by me. Also, they have been and will be chronicled in great detail at TTAC.
    The disruptions are real and will rise in severity. A shortage of power emerges as the biggest problem. This is also a problem that takes the longest time to fix. Some nuclear power plants that shut down during a smaller quake in 2007 are still down.  Large swaths of Japan will be short of 25% of their power. Power conservation measures will result in lower productivity. By year’s end, there could easily be more than a million cars missing in Japans output.

     

  • avatar
    william442

    Do you have access to a buying service? One usually reliable one shows a nice discount still available, and a dealer name.

  • avatar
    grzydj

    Subaru dealers typically don’t move a whole lot of MSRP because they don’t have to. To that, I bet you could score a good deal on a Tribeca.

  • avatar
    umbabaru

    Dan, I just bought an ’07 WRX. It took me a long while, and I was also considering new, and ran into the same issue you had prior to the earthquake. At my local Subaru dealership (in NC) deliveries for WRX’s were 4-6 wks out BEFORE the earthquake, and typically the ones that came in were not equipped as I wanted (they were generally totally decked out).
    I think it is safe to assume that the earthquake is certainly not going to help the delay in the pipeline, although I find it somewhat distasteful that Subaru and it’s dealers are leveraging the event to drive sales.
    Anyway, I finally found this well maintained ’07 by periodically searching within a 100 mile radius, and it took about 6 weeks to finally find a car in the shape I was looking for at a price that was fair.
    I would say, even if Subaru’s story is true, be patient and don’t let the hype drive your decision.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    At the risk of being the skunk at the party, the answer to the question is almost irrelevant.  What is relevant, is how much you are willing to pay for the car, and how much the dealer is willing to sell it for.  It might be that, facing a likely reduced supply of vehicles in the future, the dealer will be unwilling to discount and prefer to wait for the buyer who will pay the full ticket.  OTOH, the dealer might be pinched for cash this month and might have decided that, in the face of reduced future income as a result of a reduced supply of cars, that he needs to reduce costs . . . and the way to reduce costs (i.e. the cost of financing the inventory) is to move some metal.
    The idea that Japanese-made cars are going to be reduced in supply doesn’t seem to me to be a debatable point.  The only question is how much Japan’s manufacturing shut down is going to affect the supply of other cars, not made in Japan, even those made and sold under other than Japanese brands.
    Finally, as others have suggested, the key to getting a good deal is your own psyche.  If you believe that there are many cars out there that will make you happy, you will be a strong negotiator and get a good deal.  If you absolutely have to have that particular make and model, or even worse, that particular car, you’re unlikely to be in a position to make a good deal for your self.
    And super-finally, think about whether you can play the market.  How do your needs fit with where the market is?  For example, with gasoline popping over $4 a gallon in the U.S. thirsty vehicles are not moving as fast as fuel-sippers.  How important is that to you?  In my case, for example, I drive my personal car about 5,000 miles a year.  I could give a damn about fuel economy . . . it’s just not a big component in the cost of operating my car (depreciation and insurance are).  So, if I were in the market for a car, I might be interested in “getting a deal” on a thirsty sedan.   OTOH, if I drove 20,000 miles a year, it would be pretty stupid to do that.  The “discount” I would get on the thirsty vehicle would probably be more than eaten up by the additional costs of fueling it, during the 5 or more years that I would plan on owning it.   There’s nothing in the current market situation for gasoline that suggests that it’s going to get cheaper over the next 5 years, and the risk seems to be on the upside.
     
    But asking the seller to “justify” his high price is just an invitation to be bullshitted, IMHO.  I mean, would you expect the seller to cut you a great deal if you told him you had lost your job?

  • avatar
    Subifreak

    One thing I did not notice (correct me if I am wrong) is what location Dan is from (IE: near what major city)?  That might explain (at least in part) ‘Subaru’s marketing of fear’…

  • avatar
    azmtbkr81

    The tsunami may be a convenient excuse but its been my experience that certain options and trim levels exist only on paper, this has been the case for as long as I can remember.
    If you are dead set on a WRX wagon but need a car now buy a beater for $1000 and prepare to wait it out.  Don’t settle, you will regret it later. Check dealer online inventories a few times a week and when the right car finally materializes jump on it.
    It is frustrating and misleading that car manufacturers and dealers do this, I don’t know who to blame for the lack of variety and availability but as a consumer it makes car shopping a even more painful than it already is.


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