The coronavirus pandemic has upended car buying. Here's everything automakers are doing to help consumers.
Crystal Cox/Business Insider
- New vehicle sales in the US have declined significantly as the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has worsened.
- With business shutdowns across the country, many car dealerships are unable to keep their showrooms open, although they can continue to operate essential service operations.
- Automakers have responded by rolling out flexible payment terms for stressed customers, extended lease periods, and appealing financing for qualified borrowers.
- Some automakers are also encouraging customers to explore shop-from-home programs.
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New car sales in the US plunged in the second half of March as much of the country was locked down to fight the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
For many Americans, it's nearly impossible to visit a car dealership to check out a new vehicle or explore a lease. Shutdowns in many states have compelled dealers to close their showrooms, leaving the service departments open because they're defined as "essential" businesses.
Additionally, financial stress from a job loss or layoff has made making monthly loan or lease payments a challenge.
The situation is pretty confusing right now. But if the nation remains closed for business in may regions, people are going to need to replace old cars with new ones, or contend with leases that are expiring.
For the moment, many automakers and the so-called "captive" finance companies have developed ways for customers to buy new vehicles on favorable terms, and for owners to work out their payments if they're experiencing money problems.
Bear in mind that if your financing if through a bank or credit union, the situation could be different.
Here's a rundown of where we're at the automakers:
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Interest rates are low. According to Bankrate, the average new vehicle loan as of April 1 was under 5%, for a 60-month term.
With car sales plummeting, you could make some deals.
Honda/Acura. The carmaker is using its finance arm to assist new and existing customers.
Ford Credit said that stressed customers could request payment delays and also laid out a 90-day no-payment plan for new purchases.
General Motors is offering a range of options, concentrated on helping distressed customers.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' Chrysler Capital is offering favorable financing terms and extended payment times.
Hyundai/Genesis. The Korean automaker has revived a program that it used during the 2008-09 financial crisis.
Kia is offering payment relief and financing deals.
Toyota/Lexus is offering case-by-case workouts on payments through Toyota Financial Services.
Nissan/Infiniti. The carmaker is offering low financing deals, extended payments, and case-by-case payments arrangements.
Porsche is providing substantial support to customers who lease vehicles.
Automakers are also encouraging customers to buy or lease a vehicle without leaving home.
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