It's getting to be a rite of summer, as carmakers once again roll out the incentives.
"Zero-percent financing and a gas card and in some cases a rebate," saysTerry Miller, the sales manager of Galpin Ford in Los Angeles, in a dealer advertisement. "They're actually paying you to buy a vehicle right now!"
While the automakers haven't laid out exactly what shape their bargains will take, by the end of this week consumers can expect a blend of:
- Zero-percent financing
- So-called employee discount pricing
Even gasoline discounts, which some critics consider environmentally unfriendly.
With zero-percent financing, Ken and Amy Jedlicka of suburban Chicago expect to save thousands.
"It's a very handsome incentive for us," says Ken.
But will incentives really help struggling U.S. automakers pump up lagging sales, including those of gas-guzzling trucks and SUVs?
"A lot of people consider them kind of a Band-Aid, in that they'll get people into the showroom right now that might not have come in right now." says Karl Brauer, an industry expert with edmunds.com. "But a lot of times these are people that would've gone in the next six months."
Incentive programs are also aimed at persuading drivers to buy American. Those imports in the mirror may be a lot closer than they appear, with Toyota bumping Chrysler from third place in sales in both April and May.
Analysts say you're likely to see incentives across the board as carmakers try to keep up with the Joneses.
"A company like GM can't just sit back and say, 'We're going to do nothing, we're going to ignore that everybody else is offering huge discounts and has all this hype,'" says Brian Moody with edmunds.com.
So look for a summer of good deals for drivers — whether they're good for the U.S. auto industry or not.