Clark Howard: Supply of cars means savings for you

Consumer expert Clark Howard’s column appears here each Thursday in conjunction with Deal Spotter, a weekly print section in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Listen to Clark's live radio show 8-10 p.m. weekdays on AM750 and 95.5FM News/Talk WSB.

Listen to Clark's live radio show 8-10 p.m. weekdays on AM750 and 95.5FM News/Talk WSB.

Looking for a sweet deal on a new car? Several vehicles are overstocked on dealer lots and certain to be priced to move.

This latest development comes at a time when the car business is otherwise booming. Yet The Wall Street Journal  reports that while the Japanese automakers are doing well, the Detroit automakers are slowing.

What’s behind the success of the Japanese, who were on the ropes a year ago in the after-effects of the tsunami? Detroit-style marketing, that’s what.

The Japanese automakers are offering major incentives. Honda is up to nearly $2,500 and Nissan is up to more than $4,000. They’re also doing a lot of zero-percent-interest financing — another key Motown move.

At the same time, both domestic and foreign brands are seeing an oversupply of vehicles on dealer lots.

In the auto business, a 55-day supply is considered ideal. In theory, that number allows car dealers to sell what they have on the lot for 55 days if manufacturers didn’t make another car. Fifty-five days represents a healthy inventory cycle.

Yet the Toyota Avalon has a 90-day supply. The Ford Fiesta has a 94-day supply. And the Dodge Dart has a five-month supply! If you’re into trucks, the Chevy Silverado has an almost four-month supply, and the Chevy Cruse has a two-and-a-half-month supply.

It stands to reason that dealers will be in the mood to make a deal on cars that represent extreme oversupply. So you can always find a sweet spot in the market — even when the auto business in going great guns.

Find more answers to your consumer questions at Clark’s website. And get more savings tips from Clark’s previous blog posts.

– Clark Howard — Save More, Spend Less, Avoid Rip-offs — for the Atlanta Bargain Hunter blog

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