Um, Yes, Apparently This Is the Best Week to Buy a Car

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At least if you’re buying a Saturn or a Pontiac. To move the cars off their lots in a hurry, GM is basically giving dealerships an extra $7,000 per vehicle to play with in negotiations with car buyers. The net result: It’s possible to buy a car for nearly 50% off the sticker price.

The WSJ explains the game being played:

In what is equivalent to a year-end fire sale, GM sent letters to dealers Dec. 23 saying it would pay them $7,000 for every new Saturn or Pontiac on their lot that is moved to rental-vehicle or service-vehicle fleets operated by the dealers. Dealers can then sell the vehicles at a more attractive price, though they must be described to customers as used because the dealers technically will be the vehicles’ first owner.

Even though the car isn’t really used, once it’s classified as such the dealers are free to sell it at whatever price it likes. For example:

If a dealer passes along all the new incentive to a customer, Pontiac’s cheapest vehicle, the G3 compact, could go for about $8,000, or 46% off the sticker price of about $15,000.

Why is GM resorting to such desperate sales tactics? Pretty much to wash its hands of the two dead-men-walking brands and get on with its post-bankruptcy business, even if that means more short-term losses through hefty buyer incentives.

If you missed out on Cash for Clunkers, here’s another chance to purchase a vehicle with a nice subsidy, provided by the manufacturer rather than the government. The only problem is that you may be getting a clunker rather than getting rid of one. There are reasons these car brands are being axed, obviously, though prices are so phenomenally cheap that heading to the dealership to kick a few tires may be worth your time.

Car dealers (and by extension, car buyers) can take advantage of the $7K gift through January 4.

Read more:
Is This the Best Week to Buy a Car?