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Which Cars Offer the Largest Rebates?

The car industry is one of the most competitive in the world. In most other markets, there's usually one or two companies that sell the majority of the products within that industry. Not so in the car market.

The top car brands only hold about a 10% market share and there's always fierce competition trying to strive for the #1 sales position in each car segment. In an environment like this, car makers often resort to offering incentives to help stay on top of the competition.

Car incentives have been around since the 1970s and they sure look like they're here to stay. Most incentives are used to help move slow-selling cars off the lots, but sometimes they're used to keep market share against competitors that are also offering incentives.

The best kind of incentives are cash back rebates, and the largest ones are reserved for cars that take a long time to sell. Most manufacturers and dealers like to have about 50 days worth of inventory available on the lots. This gives car shoppers ample inventory to choose their desired colors and options.

When inventory levels go higher than this, manufacturers will usually start offering some sort of incentive. Cars that have over 125 days worth of inventory will usually have the largest rebates.

I've seen inventory levels on some vehicles as high as 400 days, which means it would take over a year just to sell all the cars on the lots. Inventory levels this high are rare, but it does happen from time to time - usually when manufacturers launch models that don't have any consumer interest, or in situations where a segment that used to be hot no longer is. (Example: large trucks after gas prices shot up).

Other times you'll find large rebates is when a newly redesigned model comes out and dealers want to move the leftover models to make room for the new ones. I've seen cash back rebates as high as $6,000 in situations like this.

Another time to look for large rebates is when a manufacturer discontinues a brand, such as when GM discontinued Oldsmobile and Ford discontinued Mercury. The leftover models are seen as less desirable and take a hit on residual values. But if you intend to keep a discontinued model for a long time, these can be great buying opportunities.

My Recommendation for Car Shoppers

TrueCar No-Haggle and Edmunds Price Promise are the quickest way to see the lowest car prices in your area. These sites show you no-haggle prices from dealers closest to you - and the deals are usually really good. This should be the first step you take when negotiating your car price. Follow this up with my checklist to make sure you squeeze out every last bit of savings.
- Gregg Fidan

Gregg Fidan

About: Gregg Fidan

Gregg Fidan + is the founder of RealCarTips. After being ripped off on his first car purchase, he devoted several years to figuring out the best ways to avoid scams and negotiate the best car deals. He has written hundreds of articles on the subject of car buying and taught thousands of car shoppers how to get the best deals.

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