Normally the best time of the year to buy a car is at the end of the calendar year between Christmas and New Years. To find out if this was true we conducted the best non-scientific study possible among our dealer customers. In other words, we got them drunk and asked them questions when their guard was down. Lo and behold, it’s true! But with caveats.
The end of the calendar year is when all the car buying stars line up in a single beautiful line. Manufacturers want to get rid of the previous year’s models to make way for the bigger better deal, a.k.a. next year’s models. So they provide cash incentives. Dealers also want to clear their lots to make way for the new models so they too want to make a deal. In addition, dealers have both internal and external annual sales targets they want to meet. External targets are those that give dealers advantages with manufacturers for meeting certain sales targets. Internal targets are those set within the dealers for each sales person which can result in such happy thoughts such as those induced by bonuses!
So what’s the catch? Well, there is a reason the left overs are still on the lot. They may be unpopular models or they may have something “different” about them, like say a really weird color. You know when you’re driving along and a really ugly lime green car drives by and you ask yourself, “who would buy such an abomination?” Well, that guy got a really good deal on the last remaining car on the lot and he doesn’t care about the color.
So, yes, the end of the year is the best time to find a good deal but how good of a deal depends on many factors including the the popularity of the model. Because no matter what, the “invisible hand,” a.k.a. the forces of supply and demand, are always at play.