The Dodge Grand Caravan is by far the most heavily discounted vehicle in Canada this year, with one particular deal concluding with a whopping 31.5 per cent off its suggested retail price, a Canadian auto pricing website says in a survey released this week.
For the minivan sales powerhouse, this discount translated into an $8,865 price reduction on the Grand Caravan, which has long featured deep discounts to keep them selling and the Windsor, Ont., assembly line rolling. The survey's second-highest discount was on the Ford Edge, at $7,400, though the percentage discount was about half that (16.1 per cent off MSRP) of the Grand Caravan.
Interestingly, the Edge is also produced only in Ontario, and these two discounts were notably higher than those offered on the third-place Hyundai Santa Fe ($4,950 discount, or 16.0 per cent off MSRP), fourth place Kia Sorento ($4,200/12.2 per cent), and the fifth place Honda Odyssey, with a $3,765 discount (11.9 per cent).
The survey listed the top discounts in Canada so far this year seen on the website unhaggle.com, a site in which Canadian consumers can pay to have local dealers bid online for a vehicle as chosen by the consumer. The survey therefore lists discounts based not only on national and regional discounts available thanks to manufacturer programs, but also includes further reductions by dealers hungry to consummate deals.
This is not a scientific survey, admits site co-founder Andrew Tai, as this top-five deal list didn't include pickup trucks, which make up a relatively tiny proportion of the year-old site's deals. Full-size pickups have long been some of the most profitable vehicles for Detroit-based auto makers, and feature some of the biggest discounts.
But even had pickups been included, said Tai this week, their best percentage discount would be high (in the "high 20s"), but not as high as the Grand Caravan's 31.5 per cent winner.
And this individual Grand Caravan deal was not just an anomaly caused by one sales-hungry dealer or snot-coloured paint. "The specific dollar amount was a specific transaction, but 30 per cent (Grand Caravan) discounts are quite well distributed," said Tai. "The deals are really driven very much from the factory deals that are available on the cars."
There are also some regional differences in deals, mostly tied to how much inventory is available. The greater Toronto area has always had the most dealers, and therefore has been the most price competitive. In Alberta, though, brands such as Subaru are less popular, so its dealers stock fewer vehicles, he noted.
"In Edmonton and Calgary, the Subaru discounts are crap," said Tai, with shortages based on the province being perceived – and supplied – as big truck country. "When they stock less, there's less incentive to discount."
Alfa Romeo coming in 2014, Fiat 500L and EV by end of year
Alfa Romeo cars are planned to return to Canada and North America in 2014, while the Fiat 500L five-door and all-electric Fiat 500 EV are scheduled to arrive at the end of this year, declared Fiat Group and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne on Monday.
There will also be another Fiat model coming by the end of next year or early 2014, without laying out specifics, Marchionne said at the opening of Maranello Fiat, owned by childhood friend Remo Ferri, who came to know the Fiat and Chrysler "big boss" in Toronto after both had immigrated to Canada from Italy.
"We both had an Italian accent when it wasn't cool to have an Italian accent," said Marchionne. Ferri also owns the nearby Maranello BMW and Chrysler dealerships in Vaughan, just north of Toronto city limits, and though Marchionne didn't confirm it, Alfa Romeo cars appear destined to join Fiats in an Italian-themed dealer pairing that would separate them from Chrysler's traditional Dodge, Jeep, Chrysler and now Ram brands.
"I had a heart attack when I saw he put the Maranello name in front of a German brand," said Marchionne, noting that the hometown of Ferrari has a special place in Italian lore. "I don't want to see Alfa paired with an American brand, not because I don't like those brands, but we have to keep the Italian flavour of the (Alfa Romeo) brand."
Jetta Hybrid here by December
The Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid will arrive at the end of this year in Canada right along with its U.S. launch, as upcoming VW plug-in hybrids are expected to be aligned with American launches after that, Volkswagen of Canada president John White confirmed recently.
But Canadians will have to wait longer than Americans when it comes to the VW Golf electric vehicle, confirmed White in a recent e-mail.
"Volkswagen will introduce the e-Golf Battery electric vehicle into (the U.S.) in late 2013-early 2014, where the primary market for these vehicles will be California, though the car will be introduced more broadly after the launch," wrote White. "Once we have fully launched this car in the U.S., our intention is to bring it into Canada."
And, as for last week's report suggesting that an extreme diesel-hybrid fuel sipper dubbed the XL1 is being planned for production, or reports of a four-door "coupe" version of the Jetta is in the works, White said that both cars were concept vehicles only.
Curious, because although a two-door Jetta coupe concept dubbed the NCC for New Compact Coupe was shown at the Detroit show in 2010, no slinkier four-door "coupe" version of the Jetta has yet been shown publicly, concept or otherwise.
Fisker fix on the way
Fledgling luxury plug-in hybrid maker Fisker has announced that a manufacturing defect has been found in some of the battery packs in its Karma luxury sport sedans, which will be replaced on all affected vehicles by battery supplier A123 Systems.
Fisker will also extend the warranty by another year to all North American and European owners, to five years and 100,000 km, or 60,000 miles in the U.S.
The move comes after a Fisker Karma bought by Consumer Reports magazine didn't start, at less than 200 miles, and had to be towed on a flatbed back to the dealer. The report prompted a massive technical investigation, said Fisker CEO Tom LaSorda in a release about the issue, which traced the issue to prismatic cells made at A123's factory in Livonia, Mich.
The battery replacement offer and warranty extension is another extraordinary step to appease early adopters of such advanced plug-in vehicles. GM previously offered to buy back its Volts for full price from any customer concerned about reports of fires relating to its batteries after a crash, though the NHTSA later concluded that the batteries did not pose any undue risk.