New-car buyers have a unique opportunity to bargain with dealers as the industry weathers a perfect storm of plummeting demand, rising costs and fallout from the credit crunch.
“Right now, it's an epic fire sale. We'll never see this repeated,” Channel Nine motoring expert and consultant John Cadogan said.
“If you've got the money, now is the time to buy. It won't be this good again.”
Some brands are offering huge incentives, including extended warranty, free on-road costs and price reductions running from $1000 to more than $10,000.
Mr Cadogan said that for a determined buyer these were merely the beginning.
“The basic formula for getting a discount is to ask for the drive-away price, subtract 15 per cent and offer that,” he said.
“If they won't be in it go somewhere else, because some dealer somewhere will trade in for that sort of discount. Be prepared to compromise on colour and trim if you have to.
“And even if it's not the make you want, you will get the same sort of car.
“The only caveat is that the car has to be in stock.
“When it's on the floor, the dealer is paying the finance cost of owning it because he has to buy it from the manufacturer.”
AMP chief economist Dr Shane Oliver said car sales were “in the process of falling off a cliff”.
“Given the urgency with which some dealers need to get rid of their stock rather than have it repossessed, there are bargains out there,” Dr Oliver said.
Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries chief executive Andrew Mackeller said brands are “doing what they can to clear the decks. There are excellent deals to be had on 2008-plated stock.”
The window will not be open for long.
The Australian dollar's dramatic plunge against major currencies will soon bite hard, forcing prices to rise.
For the moment, dealers disadvantaged by the credit crunch and the market downturn seek to urgently shift stock.
This buyer's market has been brought about by a downturn in car sales so dramatic that Holden has suspended production at its Adelaide plant for the first three months of 2009.
New-car sales for October were down by more than 10,000 units on the same month in 2007.
Dealers have also been hit by the withdrawal from the car market of financiers GE Money and General Motors Acceptance Corporation. This has caused a funding shortfall of about $2 billion which affects as many as 30 per cent of the nation's dealerships.
10 TIPS TO A GREAT DEAL
* Look for slow-selling models
* Look for 2008-build models
* Compare prices from dealers
* Go for a car that's in the showroom _ these are the ones the dealer needs to get rid of
* Big, thirsty cars are unpopular, but the savings on the purchase price can equal a year's worth of fuel
* Demand the driveaway price and offer under that
* Demand extended warranty and on-road costs
* Lean hard on the dealer to include optional extras
* Compromise on colour and trim and even make in order to save big
* Be ready to walk away there's no lack of competition out there
START HERE AND THEN OFFER 15 PER CENT LESS ...
HONDA ODYSSEY: $39,290 (Driveaway)
MITSUBISHI LANCER: $20,990 (with $2008 cashback)
HYUNDAI ELANTRA: $19,990 (Driveaway plus $1000 gift card)
NISSAN MICRA: $14,990 (Free on-roads)