Keeping Track: car-buyers' incentives

Cash-back deals by automakers hit new highs

Bargains in automotive buys are heating up.

In a standard late-summer move, car dealers are hurling rebates and other incentives at customers, aiming to move inventory and make room for next year's models, which arrive in the fall.

"Incentives have been an important part of the relatively strong light-vehicle sales this year because the economy has slowed," says Paul Taylor, chief economist for the National Automobile Dealers Association in McLean, Va.

Mr. Taylor cites the cash incentive Buick offered on its 2001 Park Avenue Ultra as a good example. The current cash incentive is $3,500 - up from $3,000 as recently as June.

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