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It might be hard to imagine going car shopping when you're still shaking off the effects of a big NYE, but January is always a good time to snag a new-car bargain, because dealers are in a rush to clear 2018-plated stock and make space for new models, rather than have ageing cars clogging up their shiny forecourts.
But in 2019, buyers will be greeted by a perfect storm of selling conditions, a kind of Halley's Comet of circumstances that make this January a super-strong time to snare a bargain.
For a start, most dealerships want to start the year strong, and with six- (and even seven-) figure cheques from the manufacturers on offer for meeting sales targets, they’ll be desperately keen to close January on or above quotas. Add to that the rush to shift 2018-plated models to make way for new stock, and you’ve got some highly motivated sales staff on your hands.
But the icing on this new-car cake is this; after years of super strong growth, the seemingly unbreakable Australian automotive industry is facing some scary times. You’ll hear much more about it over the course of 2019, but sales haven’t so much slowed as they gone backwards, and if it wasn’t for the enduring popularity of dual-cab utes, the actual numbers would be much scarier.
With a hint of desperation in the air, dealers will be keener than ever to shift stock.
In November, there were 7.4 per cent fewer new cars sold than in the same month in 2017, making it eight consecutive months of falling sales. Even mid-size SUVs, which could always be counted on prop up flagging sales, dropped more than four percent in November, and seven of the top 10 brands all suffered falls in the number of units shifted.
All of which is good news for you, the buyer, because with a hint of desperation in the air, dealers will be keener than ever to shift stock.
So now is the time to drop the socks and jocks, the scented candles and the mediocre gift cards and go get yourself the Christmas present you really wanted. And to help, we’ve toured the nation’s five top-selling brands to let you know what to expect.
And don’t forget to consult our tips for negotiating with dealers to ensure you're armed with the information needed to get the very best deal.
But remember, these are simply the manufacturer’s published offers, and by no means are they the best deal you can get. So shop around and haggle hard.
Toyota is offering a three-year roadside assistance program across plenty of models in its range, but the best bargains are reserved for soon-to-be-replaced models.
The Kluger 2WD GX, for example, is yours for $40,990 drive-away (usually $44,500 MRSP), provided you’re happy with a pre tech-change model, while the Toyota Corolla Ascent Sedan with an automatic gearbox can be had for $22,990 drive-away (usually $23,490 MSRP), but you buy one in the knowledge that the car will soon be replaced by an all-new variant.
The ever-popular HiLux is getting special deals right across the range; from drive-away pricing to free automatic gearboxes and or gratis trays and accessories. And the RAV4 gets drive-away pricing, too.
Mazda has a 2018 run-out offer across its CX-3, CX-5, CX-9, Mazda 2, BT-50 and MX-5 variants, which mostly equates to about $1000 for on-road costs on most cars. And that’s… well, not overly exciting.
An all-new model is on its way, and when it gets here it will make existing 3 stock suddenly very old. And so don’t be surprised to find dealers willing to knock some dollars off the price tag to push the 2018 cars out the door.
Few brands have been immune from the recent drop in sales, and that includes Hyundai, which is rolling out factory bonuses and no-deposit finance to lure buyers in the new year.
Having already introduced a cheaper i30 Go model - which dropped pricing back towards that golden $19990 drive-away level of the old model - the brand will sharpen the deal again, offering the popular small car at $20,990 drive-away, with Hyundai throwing in a $500 factory bonus.
Mitsubishi is on something of diamond run at the moment, being one of the few inside the top 10 to have posted a year-on-year sales increase.
Still, there are solid offers right across the range, with Mitsubishi offering drive-away pricing, free accessories, $2000 fuel cards - and sometimes all three at once.
The Mitsubishi Triton GLS Premium is yours for $50,990 drive-away, and Mitsubishi will give you a seven-year warranty to go with it. Opt for the GLX 4WD manual ($32,990 drive-away), and you’ll get a $2000 fuel card and $1000 in free accessories. The Eclipse Cross comes with a seven-year warranty, too, while the ever-popular ASX comes with a $1000 EFTPOS card.
Now it must be said, these are technically end-of-year offers due to expire December 31, but arrive armed with this information in January and your dealer should be very keen to help you out.
Ford is still hooked on the end-of-year deals, and is yet to publish its January offers, but for now, almost every model in the range is being pushed with free servicing, a $1500 gift card, free accessories and drive-away pricing.
The model that Ford relies upon most heavily now is the Ranger, and Christmas shoppers are being offered, on the 4x4 XLS Double Cab Pick-up, a choice between five free services or $2k worth of Ford accessories, along with a $1500 gift card to sweeten the deal.
That is just a taste of the deals on offer, plenty more will be unveiled between now and January 1. And happy shopping.