Spring has sprung, and now is a great time to buy a new car. No, that’s not a non sequitur. While spring has traditionally not been the best time of year to buy a new car – the best deals are typically offered in the autumn and winter as dealerships race to unwind inventory ahead of the year’s end – this year is proving an exception. Car dealerships are offering sizable price cuts because of an overstock of vehicles on their lots.

The automotive consumer website CarGurus reports that the average motor vehicle purchased in February had been sitting on the dealer’s lot for 74 days, which is 40% longer than in 2012. That means dealerships have surplus inventory they are desperate to move, and they are offering great incentives to do so. If you are thinking of buying a car within the next six months, you would be well advised to act now to take advantage of the current deals. (See our tutorial: The Complete Guide to Buying a New Car.)

Excess Production

Despite slowing car sales in the first quarter of 2017, automakers continued cranking out new vehicles at their production plants. Data from Bloomberg News show that 4.1 million vehicles were sitting idle on U.S. car lots in February, up 8% from the same time period in 2016. Auto manufacturers kept production ramped up because they were emboldened by record car sales in 2016. They were also counting on robust sales in March to help unwind excess inventories. March is the typical start of spring, when sales tend to tick upwards as consumers come out of winter hibernation and receive their tax refunds.

However, a prolonged winter and late start to spring meant that the March madness sales that were expected didn't materialize. U.S. car sales missed their targets across the board in March, selling at an annualized rate of 16.6 million vehicles – considerably lower than the record 17.6 million cars sold in 2016. In April, sales declined 4.7% to 1.4 million cars and light trucks. Forecasters expect sales of about 17.2 million vehicles in 2017, down from last year’s record pace, according to a recent report in The New York Times.

Making matters worse, prices for used cars in the U.S. have been falling steadily, making secondhand vehicles more attractive to price-conscious consumers. And, Deutsche Bank AG reported in an industry analysis that fewer vehicles have been heading to scrap heaps and junk yards in 2017. “This has led us to question whether the U.S. is broadly oversupplied,” Deutsche Bank wrote in its report.

A Growing Number of Incentives

Car dealerships are now employing their most potent weapon for combating an abundant overstock of vehicles: price incentives. Car prices typically peak in May and are usually about 5% higher than at Christmastime, when the rush is on to meet year-end sales figures and clear last year’s models off the lots. But this year, the seasonal sales boost in May has not happened, say analysts.

Automotive researcher ALG estimated that the average car for sale in the U.S. in March was $415 cheaper than it was a year ago. Incentives being offered include 0% interest rate financing, monthly lease payments of less than $200, extended maintenance packages and warranty coverage, as well as bells and whistles, such as satellite radio, that may be thrown in at no additional charge. The New York Times has reported sizable discounts on car models ranging from the Nissan Altima to the Hyundai Sonata, Chevrolet Malibu and Ford Fusion.

Some Models Still Selling Well

To be sure, not all makes and models of vehicles are idling on dealership lots. Sport utility vehicles (SUVs) continue to sell well in most markets in the U.S. However, sports cars, sedans and convertibles have been left collecting dust as we move into summer, according to data from Bloomberg News.  People looking for these types of cars are sure to be rewarded with attractive incentives and deals.

But don’t expect the good times to last forever. Faced with the reality of slowing vehicle sales, most automotive manufacturers have begun curtailing their production, which means you can expect the overstock and today's incentives to be considerably diminished come autumn.

The Bottom Line

The current overstock of vehicles on car dealership lots has led to a number of incentives and price discounts that make now a great time to buy a new car. But the deals won’t last indefinitely. Automotive manufacturers are now taking steps to correct the oversupply and get sales back on track. Buyers would be wise to act now to take advantage of the current sales incentives. (Also see: Car Shopping: New or Used? and How to Get the Best Price on a New Car.)

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