Driving on the 401 yesterday I noticed a big bumper sticker that read “Buy American”. Based on the car it was pasted on—a mid-90’s green Pontiac—I was inclinded to think, no thanks. But for the first time in a long time, the message made a lot of sense.
While the heads of the Detroit automakers try to hammer out a last-second bailout in Washington, dealerships across the continent are desperately trying to sell cars. The industry is paralyzed, but for car shoppers, there has never been a better time in automotive history to buy a car, especially an American one. According to the CAW, the Detroit auto makers are offering anywhere from $3,000 to $7,000 in incentives on most models. In the U.S., Ford is offering as much as $4,000 cash back on its Edge crossover/SUV. In Canada, the Edge comes with zero percent financing, with the first two payments free. Today, Ford is advertising “$12,000 price adjustments on selected 2008 models.” And it’s not just the Detroit Three slashing prices. Double digit declines in sales have all automakers scrambling to move inventory. And ‘zero percent’ financing has become the industry’s new rally cry. Toyota’s “Saved By Zero” TV ad, for instance, has become infamous.
But more importantly, the American automakers are quite suddenly offering some very well-built and (dare I say) stylish cars. The Pontiac G8 was dubbed the new BMW by one influential auto blog (see below). Motor Trend named GM’s Cadillac CTS the 2008 Car of the Year. And along with the Chevy Malibu and Corvette, it was also in Car and Driver’s 10 Best Cars ranking. It would be a great loss (and an economic disaster) if even one of the Detroit companies fell. But if you’re thinking of buying a car, now’s the time.