Brands to target if you're shopping for a new car

Looking for a great opportunity to save money on a new car before the end of the year? Our list of hot prospects is below.

Car sales are traditionally in full swing in the lead-up to Dec 31. The automotive industry looks like being 12 per cent up overall in 2010, compared with 2009. However, not all brands are doing that well. Here's a list of brands to try your luck with if you're in the market for a new car now.

Just remember: to get the best discount the car you want must be in stock now, and you have to be ready to buy it before Dec 31. It might not be the colour you want, or the exact specification, but you could save thousands if you're prepared to compromise.

Here's some background on how dealerships work: once a car is in stock at a dealership the dealer owns it and is paying interest on it. Therefore, it is his problem. Dealers all face strict sales targets imposed by the car manufacturers, and it's a safe bet that at least some of the under-performers are not meeting theirs. Dealers in this position are highly motivated not to let you walk out the door with your money intact, and will often take a financial hit late in the year to make their quota. Start your negotiations 15 per cent below the list price, and be firm.

Here is a short list of under-performing brands:

  • Fiat: Sales of the Italian brand are down 30 per cent.
  • Chrysler: A massive 28 per cent decline for the Fiat-owner US brand.
  • Dodge: Another extremely poor showing from the USA (also, it's owned by Chrysler, which is owned by Fiat) - down 27 per cent.
  • Renault: A terrible result for the French car maker, down 25 per cent.
  • Alfa Romeo: Down 24 per cent (owned by Fiat).
  • Lotus: down 4 per cent.
  • Citroen: Down 3 per cent.
  • Honda: Down 2 per cent (when the rest of the Japanese are up between 7 and 20 per cent).

Looking for a German prestige car? Try BMW - up just 5 per cent against Mercedes-Benz (up 16 per cent) and Audi (up 17 per cent).