Bar­gain bo­nanza

Ri­valry and new tar­iffs have jolted the mar­ket, writes Neil Dowl­ing The time is ripe for buy­ing that dream ma­chine . . . at a re­duced price

Herald Sun - Motoring - - First Drive -

CRUNCH a new car deal to­day as ma­jor com­pa­nies start chop­ping prices to move metal. Im­ported mod­els head the list, but even Toy­ota is rolling out lim­it­ededi­tion mod­els with price cuts up to $2000. Citroen has slashed $6000 off one model.

The bar­gains are en­tic­ing, even though the cars may not be at the top of your shop­ping list.

The Fed­eral Cham­ber of Au­to­mo­tive In­dus­tries says it’s all about a fiercely com­pet­i­tive mar­ket and sea­sonal sales.

‘‘The start of the new fi­nan­cial year is usu­ally a rel­a­tively quiet time for the mar­ket, so brands are tak­ing ad­van­tage of that and run­ning very com­pet­i­tive cam­paigns,’’ FCAI spokesman James Good­win says.

‘‘It’s cer­tainly a com­pet­i­tive mar­ket at the moment with many brands re­view­ing pric­ing and spec­i­fi­ca­tions, as well as pre­par­ing for the in­tro­duc­tion of new mod­els to their line-up.’’

Good­win says new-car buy­ers are ben­e­fit­ing from the halv­ing of the tar­iff on most im­ported ve­hi­cles. Brands are ei­ther re­duc­ing prices or in­creas­ing the stan­dard spec­i­fi­ca­tion lev­els, he says.

‘‘Buy­ers are cer­tainly spoilt for choice at the moment, with most ve­hi­cles of­fer­ing the best level of safety and lux­ury fea­tures we’ve ever seen and are do­ing that while im­prov­ing fuel ef­fi­ciency.

‘‘The ad­vice for new-car buy­ers is to shop around — the mar­ket is ex­tremely com­pet­i­tive and in­ter­est rates re­main rel­a­tively low.’’

Though the Aus­tralian car mar­ket is thriv­ing, the dis­counts come as the full weight of tar­iff cuts on im­ported cars spreads across the range.

Good­win says the re­cent dis­count­ing could arise from the show­room de­but of 2010-built mod­els, which are taxed at 5 per cent less than 2009-built cars.

The time be­tween man­u­fac­ture and sale of Aus­tralian-built cars is gen­er­ally very short. How­ever, Good­win says some im­ported cars in the show­room to­day could be 2009-built ve­hi­cles that still in­cur the higher 10 per cent, tar­iff rate. The tar­iff from Jan­uary 1, 2010 is 5 per cent.

Price ‘‘repo­si­tion­ing’’ — a spin on the word ‘‘dis­count­ing’’ — can also be traced to the volatil­ity of the Aus­tralian dol­lar.

Citroen’s $ 6000 chop to its C4 Pi­casso peo­ple-mover model in­cludes bundling on-road costs within its $39,990 price.

Aus­tralian dis­trib­u­tor Ateco Au­to­mo­tive says the com­pet­i­tive mar­ket forced it to bring the Pi­casso price down.

Ateco spokesman Ed­ward Rowe says: ‘‘Peo­ple movers are an in­tensely price-sen­si­tive sec­tor of the mar­ket.

‘‘Buy­ers need to move more peo­ple and that in­di­cates they have a lot of fi­nan­cial de­mands on their life, so the Pi­casso was made more com­pet­i­tive.’’

On the re­duc­tion in the C5 price by $3000, Rowe says Ateco be­lieves the car has the driv­e­train, spec­i­fi­ca­tions and fea­tures to win sales, but price has been an is­sue.

Alfa Romeo’s dis­count of its MiTo small car now puts it un­der $30,000 for the first time.

Ateco, which dis­trib­utes Alfa Romeo, says the MiTo’s price cut cre­ates a base point for the man­ual trans­mis­sion model be­fore the more ex­pen­sive dual-clutch model ar­rives later this year.

Honda Aus­tralia says the dis­count­ing re­flects the in­tense com­pe­ti­tion of the new-car mar­ket and aims to add value to buy­ers on its way to boost­ing mar­ket share.

Honda Aus­tralia’s gen­eral man­ager of sales and mar­ket­ing Stephen Collins says: ‘‘Our de­sire is to im­prove our per­for­mance on the mar­ket.

Work of art: the Citroen C4 Pi­casso is $39,990 drive away, which the com­pany says is a sav­ing of more than $6000.

Cut rate: the Honda Civic (above) costs from $22,490. The Toy­ota Corolla As­cent Sport (be­low) is $22,250 plus on-road costs.

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