Luxury Cars at a Cheaper Price

December 26, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Retail sales of new cars will be up sharply this month over December of last year.That's according to J.D. Power and Associates.

But the recession still has the auto industry struggling -- with the most expensive cars becoming harder to sell.

Soft leather, fine wood, and impeccable styling alone hasn't been enough to get customers into luxury brand showrooms in this recession.

"We've had a slow start to the year, we've been down as much as 40% early in the year," said Wayne Youngblood, Bavarian BMW General Manager.

Overall car sales in the U.S. are down sharply this year, but sales of luxury vehicles have especially tanked. Luxury brand sales through November are down 24%.

"Our customers, I believe, held back on their purchases because they did not necessarily want to seem ostentatious when certain of their neighbors or family members maybe were having trying times and could not purchase," said Gregory Jackson, Owner Mercedes-Benz of St. Claire Shores.

To attract those who do have the money, the high-end brands are offering massive incentives.

With Mercedes, qualified customers can lease an E-Class Sedan at $349 a month or secure low financing on pre-owned vehicles.

At BMW, their winter offer is $2,500 off nearly every car, including the PREMIER 7-series.

The incentives are just as deep at some of the most expensive brands. Luxury carmakers are also shifting their marketing strategy, placing a greater emphasis on fuel efficiency.

"I think a lot of people are more cautious in the market and they need more than luxury, it's important to emphasize that fuel economy message," said Jessica Caldwell, Auto Analyst.

With Americans holding onto their money like never before, dealers say they'll do whatever it takes.

"We try to have something for everyone. You can have whatever you like," said Jackson.

Whatever you like, just as long as you buy a car.


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