TrueCar.com Examines Trend of Rising Incentives, More
SANTA MONICA, Calif. — With the spring buying season imminent, TrueCar.com analysts offered what vehicles have the best Price Flex Score, a composite reading of total incentives, greatest percentage below MSRP, greatest price drops and days in inventory.
Three Mazda vehicles were among the top five units, including the Tribute and RX-8, each having a mark of 99. Analysts also gave the Mazda MX-5 Miata a score of 98.
Also scoring among the top five units on TrueCar.com's listing were the Lexus HS 250h, which had a 99, and the Chevrolet Express Cargo Van, which posted a 98.
Analysts reiterated that the TrueCar Price Flex Score measures how elastic the transaction price is for a particular model. A high Flex Score means a possibility of a great swing (high or low) in the price from MSRP, while a low Flex Score means the price is far less negotiable and that the transaction price range is much narrower.
Vehicles that TrueCar.com gave a Price Flex Score of just 1 included the Mercury Grand Marquis, the Chevrolet Express Passenger Van and Lincoln Town Car. Units that scored just 2 were the Dodge Charger, Chrysler 300 and Acura MDX.
Continuing on, Ford has the highest overall discount from MSRP as a brand. The site said Ford leads the way with a 13-percent reduction on 2010 models.
Right behind Ford was Hyundai with a 12-percent discount. Also giving double-digit MSRP reductions, according to TrueCar.com, are Chrysler at 11 percent as well as Mercury and Jeep at 10 percent, each.
As far as individual vehicles, the site indicated that a unit gaining popularity by leaps and bounds is tied for the highest MSRP reduction. The 2010 Hyundai Sonata is being discounted by about 18 percent as is the 2010 Jeep Cherokee.
Analysts noted that a 17-percent MSRP discount can likely be found on the 2010 Ford Ranger and 2010 Jeep Commander. Coming right behind the top five was a 16-percent reduction for the 2010 Chevrolet Cobalt.
Jesse Toprak, vice president of industry, trends and insights for TrueCar.com, speculated about the spark of recent incentives.
"Toyota's aggressive programs in March triggered a small scale incentive battle. This competition resulted in great deals for consumers," Toprak indicated.
"And even though the overall incentive levels are lower than several years ago and there is less excessive inventory, we are still able to identify some outstanding opportunities for smart shoppers," he continued.
The 2010 Hyundai Sonata also led another category TrueCar.com measured for its report — days in inventory. The site found that the Sonata had the longest time in inventory at 108 days.
Other vehicles that tend remain longer in inventory include the 2010 Kia Forte (94 days), 2010 Ford Mustang (93 days), Chevrolet Malibu (89 days), and Dodge Grand Caravan (89 days).
As far as body style, TrueCar.com mentioned that convertibles have been sitting in inventory the longest of any segment. Because of inclement weather for much of the country, site officials believe many dealers have kept convertibles in inventory well more than 100 days in anticipation of the spring shopping push.
Meanwhile, individual units TrueCar.com believe are turning the fastest are luxury vehicles. Among the shortest tenures in inventory, according the site report, were 2010 Mercedes Benz GL550 (10 days), 2010 BMW 335d (10 days) and 2010 BMW X6 (11 days).
Analysts also noted the short inventory times for the 2010 Chevrolet Equinox (11 days) and 2010 GMC Terrain (12 days).
Trends Among "Green" Vehicles
In light of St. Patrick's Day coming soon, TrueCar.com analysts also determined which "green" vehicles currently are the best deals among hybrids as well as the top-selling units sporting green as their paint color.
TrueCar.com conceded that the growing popularity of hybrid vehicles because of fuel-efficiency potential is shaving off the chances for hefty incentives. However, the site calculated that the 2010 Nissan Altima currently is the best deal going for a hybrid vehicle. Analysts found that the vehicle is selling at an average of 18-percent below MSRP.
The next closest vehicle to the Altima in TrueCar's hybrid deal report was the 2010 Toyota Camry Hybrid, which is being sold at an 8-percent discount.
The company also compiled a listing for hybrid SUVs, and only one unit had a discount off of MSRP of at least 10 percent. That was the 2010 Mercedes-Benz M-Class.
The site reiterated that it bases all of its trends and forecast reports on actual transactional data, culled from 43 percent of all vehicles sales in the U.S.
Toprak recommended that any consumer interested in a hybrid should act now to take advantage current discounts.
"Consumers can hit two birds with one stone with the big discounts we identified for several hybrid vehicles — feel good about minimizing your carbon footprint and save money at the same time," Toprak explained.
|TrueCar.com 2010 Best Hybrid Deals|
|2010 Nissan Altima 4dr Sedan I4 eCVT Hybrid||$5,015||18|
|2010 Toyota Camry Hybrid 4dr Sedan||$2,120||8|
|2010 Ford Fusion 4dr Sedan Hybrid FWD||$2,133||7|
|2010 Honda Insight 5dr CVT EX w/Navigation||$1,729||7|
|2010 Honda Civic Hybrid 4dr Sedan L4 CVT w/Navigation||$1,642||6|
|2010 Toyota Prius 5dr HB III||$1,323||5|
|2010 Mercedes-Benz M-Class 4MATIC 4dr 3.5L Hybrid||$5,332||10|
|2010 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid 2WD 4dr||$4,493||9|
|2010 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid 4WD 4dr Platinum||$7,432||8|
|2010 Toyota Highlander Hybrid 4WD 4dr Limited||$3,520||8|
|2010 Ford Escape FWD 4dr Hybrid Limited||$2,375||7|
Continuing with the St. Patrick's Day theme, TrueCar.com also found the top 10 models that have the highest percentage of green paint.
Leading the way was the 2010 Toyota FJ Cruiser at 23 percent, followed by the 2010 Subaru Forester at 21 percent.
Site analysts mentioned that the industry average for vehicles having a green paint job was a little above 2 percent since dealers often order units that are black, white, gray or silver.
|Green Vehicles Sold Between Jan. 1 to Feb. 28|
|Make/Model|| Percentage With
|2010 Toyota FJ Cruiser||23|
|2010 Subaru Forester||21|
|2010 Honda Odyssey||15|
|2010 Subaru Outback||12|
|2010 Jeep Wrangler||9|
|2010 Toyota Camry||8|
|2010 Honda Crosstour||7|
|2010 Toyota Highlander||6|
|2010 Honda CR-V||6|
|2010 Ford Fusion||6|