Automakers Bolt From the Gates With Post-Harvey Discounts

There was quite a debate occurring in TTAC’s private Slack channel yesterday — a conversation sparked by knowledge of a new discount from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles extended to those who lost insured vehicles in Hurricane Harvey.

The timing of the offer — CarsDirect  claims the deal was valid as of August 28th, even as images and video of the waterborne and helicopter rescues of Houston-area residents filled television screens and social media — raised an eyebrow. How soon is too soon? It would seem the main concerns of impacted residents over the past couple of days included finding food and shelter, reconnecting with loved ones, and perhaps picking up the pieces in both flood- and wind-damaged communities. Not shopping for a new vehicle online.

The nature of the offer sparked further debate. Affected residents in certain Texas and Louisiana counties can show a copy of their insurance claim form to receive $500 off the purchase or lease of a new FCA vehicle, certain models (like the Jeep Wrangler, Chrysler 200, SRT models, and Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio) not included. Buyers can combine the offer with other applicable discounts.

$500 off that new Grand Cherokee? Whoo-wee, you might say. At what dollar amount does a post-disaster offer change from feeling like an opportunistic sales grab and more like a gesture of kind-hearted humanitarian assistance? Or is this just cynical thinking — should we regard any offer as a sign of generosity? It’s certainly not a new practice for any automaker. On and on it went.

Of course, any conclusion comes down to the individual. But this morning we heard FCA isn’t alone in offering deals to Harvey victims. 

Also thanks to CarsDirect, we now know that General Motors and Hyundai have their own discounts. Like FCA’s, the offers are good until January 2nd, 2018.

General Motors will also wipe $500 from the price of a new Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, or Cadillac for those with vehicles damaged by Harvey — a sum applicable to all existing discounts but not special lease promotions. However, the list of vehicles to which the discount doesn’t apply includes not high-end models, but low-end ones. Entry-level models like the Chevy Cruze and Malibu L, along with the Colorado Base, aren’t eligible. It’s hard not to notice these models aren’t known for their generous profit margins.

At Hyundai dealers, Harvey victims will see $750 erased from window stickers. The automaker’s Disaster Relief Coupon can be combined with any existing offer or promotion and, unlike FCA and GM, isn’t available solely to those living in certain counties. Just show that letter from your insurance company listing the make and model of the wrecked vehicle, as well as an estimate of damages.

The Korean automaker was actually the first out of the gate with its offer. Hyundai’s discount was made available on August 26th, the day after Harvey’s late-Friday landfall. GM’s discount started up on August 29th. Any offer — regardless of cash value — needs to start sometime and, as these offers span several months, the timing probably isn’t much of a thorny issue. Again, it comes down to the individual.

Other automakers have pledged money towards disaster relief efforts, including Mazda and Ford. Toyota, with its North American operations headquartered in Plano, Texas, has offered $3 million in assistance.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]


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