By on August 30, 2017

2017 Dodge Challenger GT AWD, Image: FCA

There was quite a debate occurring in TTAC’s private Slack channel yesterday — a conversation sparked by knowledge of a new discount from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles extended to those who lost insured vehicles in Hurricane Harvey.

The timing of the offer — CarsDirect  claims the deal was valid as of August 28th, even as images and video of the waterborne and helicopter rescues of Houston-area residents filled television screens and social media — raised an eyebrow. How soon is too soon? It would seem the main concerns of impacted residents over the past couple of days included finding food and shelter, reconnecting with loved ones, and perhaps picking up the pieces in both flood- and wind-damaged communities. Not shopping for a new vehicle online.

The nature of the offer sparked further debate. Affected residents in certain Texas and Louisiana counties can show a copy of their insurance claim form to receive $500 off the purchase or lease of a new FCA vehicle, certain models (like the Jeep Wrangler, Chrysler 200, SRT models, and Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio) not included. Buyers can combine the offer with other applicable discounts.

$500 off that new Grand Cherokee? Whoo-wee, you might say. At what dollar amount does a post-disaster offer change from feeling like an opportunistic sales grab and more like a gesture of kind-hearted humanitarian assistance? Or is this just cynical thinking — should we regard any offer as a sign of generosity? It’s certainly not a new practice for any automaker. On and on it went.

Of course, any conclusion comes down to the individual. But this morning we heard FCA isn’t alone in offering deals to Harvey victims. 

Also thanks to CarsDirect, we now know that General Motors and Hyundai have their own discounts. Like FCA’s, the offers are good until January 2nd, 2018.

General Motors will also wipe $500 from the price of a new Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, or Cadillac for those with vehicles damaged by Harvey — a sum applicable to all existing discounts but not special lease promotions. However, the list of vehicles to which the discount doesn’t apply includes not high-end models, but low-end ones. Entry-level models like the Chevy Cruze and Malibu L, along with the Colorado Base, aren’t eligible. It’s hard not to notice these models aren’t known for their generous profit margins.

At Hyundai dealers, Harvey victims will see $750 erased from window stickers. The automaker’s Disaster Relief Coupon can be combined with any existing offer or promotion and, unlike FCA and GM, isn’t available solely to those living in certain counties. Just show that letter from your insurance company listing the make and model of the wrecked vehicle, as well as an estimate of damages.

The Korean automaker was actually the first out of the gate with its offer. Hyundai’s discount was made available on August 26th, the day after Harvey’s late-Friday landfall. GM’s discount started up on August 29th. Any offer — regardless of cash value — needs to start sometime and, as these offers span several months, the timing probably isn’t much of a thorny issue. Again, it comes down to the individual.

Other automakers have pledged money towards disaster relief efforts, including Mazda and Ford. Toyota, with its North American operations headquartered in Plano, Texas, has offered $3 million in assistance.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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14 Comments on “Automakers Bolt From the Gates With Post-Harvey Discounts...”

  • avatar

    I don’t believe it’s inconsiderate or “too soon”. Quite the opposite,in fact; this gives folks suffering from the storm a chance to square away their vehicular situation ASAP ,as many already know their existing cars are totaled.

  • avatar

    A $500 discount is a lot better than a +$500 “natural disaster market adjustment.”

    People will be car shopping as soon as they get their insurance settlements (which these days happens pretty quickly). If FCA is offering a discount to flood victims more power to them. Debating their corporate motivations is irrelevant and pointless.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Car mfrs are a business, not a charity.

    What discount should veterans receive? Shouldn’t they just receive free cars, houses, and college educations for their kin?

  • avatar

    Not too soon. Lots of people need to replace their car right away. Many, I’d guess, so they can go to relatives or other far flung locations so they can try to retain some semblance of household normalcy. Other’s to find or keep a job.

    It’s a shame our ‘media’ tries to piss on anything done nowadays that’s not politically correct or whatever cutesy phrase is now being used. I’d be happy to get some unexpected cash off.

  • avatar

    Not to soon. Lots of people need to replace their car right away. Many, I’d guess, so they can go to relatives or other far flung locations so they can try to retain some semblance of household normalcy.

    It’s a shame our ‘media’ tries to piss on anything anyone does nowadays that’s not politically correct or whatever cutesy phrase is now being used. I’d be happy to get some unexpected cash off.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    This is one of those times where if you do something, you get called out. If they hadn’t done anything no one would be talking about. Good deeds do sometimes get punished.

    That said, I would look to the local dealers to do away with their traditional nonsense price hiding and agree, for a time, to list the actual prices of the vehicles for sale. No negotiating, everyone gets the same deal, and have the price actually be fair to everyone involved.
    No, the dealers don’t owe anyone anything and they deserve to make a profit for their business. But these are their neighbors and right now is not the time to be wheeling and dealing.

  • avatar

    Whoever is complaining about being offered a factory discount because it’s somehow not enough or too soon is missing the big picture. A company (for profit) is offering a break on pricing. No one is being forced to buy from them. If Honda or Ford comes along and matches it or offers $1k off, then the buyers affected can vote with their wallets.

    These people have lost their homes. A little perspective helps.

  • avatar

    That’s it? I guess the auto business is doing much better than publicized!

  • avatar
    Prove Your Humanity 2+9=?

    What they really need in Texas and Louisiana at the present is a good discount on a motorboat. Mercury Marine, time to step up!

    A decent motorhome would be next, then, parked in they yard, for lodging while the house gets rebuilt. It would be handy if Harvey II comes around.

    More than a Charger or a Dart, flood victims could use a full-sized pickup for the Lowe’s, Home Depot and landfill runs.

  • avatar

    And this is bad why?

    Is TTAC the snowflake auto blog now?

  • avatar

    What? The 200 is excluded from the deal? Did FCA ship all the unsold 200s to Houston before the floodtastrophe?

  • avatar

    I seriously doubt that many will be lining up for $500 dollar discounts on new vehicles. I just read that only 20% of home owners actually had home insurance coverage.

    • 0 avatar

      The major issue is that homeowner policies explicilty do not cover damage from flooding. You have to buy flood insurance, which is sold by a US government entity. And people only buy that if they’re located in a designated flod zone and the mortgage company requires them to.

      So, you’re right. A WaPo artice today reports that “only 17 percent of homeowners in the eight counties most directly affected by Harvey have flood insurance policies, according to a Washington Post analysis of Federal Emergency Management Agency data”.

      Big ouch. And yeah, having to pay out of your own pocket for flood losses is likely to take almost everyone affected out of the new car market altogether.

  • avatar

    Disaster Relief Coupon? (makes me think, “LOOK–10 cents off a box of Cheerios!”)

    How about Disaster Relief Car?

    Step 1: present validated insurance claim for ruined car

    Step 2: receive keys to brand new Chrysler 200

    Step 3: go back to re-arranging your life, while Chrysler writes up the tax write-off paperwork and all those dealers start sending out service flyers

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