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Car Sellers Slash Costs ... How You Can Profit

The fallout from the credit crisis and the downturn in the U.S. automobile market is picking up, and buyers who are in position to take advantage can benefit.

First up is a new program by GMAC Financial Services that can help get certain people who have leases on large pickups and sport utility vehicles.

Under the program, first reported by Automotive News, GMAC will offer consumers whose

Woman looks at new Toyota Camry on dealer lot
AP
Woman looks at new Toyota Camry on dealer lot

leases are due to expire within the next three months the chance to buy their vehicles for a price considerably below the residual value set when their leases began.

The program, which is on trial in Ohio and Pennsylvania and is planned for nationwide release, also may offer to roll some past-due payments into the new price.

The only hitch is that GMAC will decide who gets this deal -- customers can't just call up the lender and ask for it.

Still, it's further evidence that the rules are changing. GMAC is doing this because it will still be far cheaper than getting stuck with vehicles that the company has to sell at auction for as much as $5,000 below what they were worth just six months ago.

If GMAC is successful, look for other leasing companies to follow suit.

Many manufacturers also are drastically increasing cash incentives to move slow-selling vehicles. On some models, the rebates are far above any previous offers.

Hummer is among the most heavily discounted models. Currently, General Motors is offering rebates of $7,000 to $8,000 on the 2008 Hummer H2 and H3 SUVs.

Over at Chrysler, where there are still a lot of 2007 models. To clear them out, the company is offering an $8,500 rebate on certain Dodge Ram pickups. Want a Jeep Commander? There's a rebate of up to $6,500.

If you're in the market for something a little smaller, Ford has rebates of up to $3,000 on the 2008 Escape SUV and the Mustang.

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Meanwhile, a few Japanese manufacturers are offering cut-rate financing. For example, financing starts at 0.9 percent on the Honda Accord, depending on the term of the loan.

Over at Nissan, the 2008 Armada SUV and Titan pickup are eligible for rebates of as much as $3,000.

European manufacturers are not immune.

Mercedes-Benz is offering its dealer incentives -- payments to the dealer that buyers should consider money in play when they negotiate price -- of as much as $8,000 on the 2008 CL-Class, R-Class and S-Class models.

The only question buyers must weigh is whether these deals are the best that will be offered this year, or whether the market will continue to decline, pushing manufacturers to offer even greater discounts.

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