Customers swoop into Chrysler dealers for last-minute leases

A quick look at July sales figures shows that Chrysler saw a massive 34% drop in its Daily Sales Rate vs. July 2007, but the bottom line could have looked worse. Chrysler's recent announcement that its financing arm would exit the leasing business by July 31 had lead to a rush of customers visiting local Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep dealerships. Some dealers sold four times as many vehicles as usual for the last couple days of the month, giving the stores some relief from an otherwise bleak July. Now dealers are worried that the increased sales volume could lead to a still more bleak August, since many customers pulled forward their purchase decision.

Some dealers are trying to find third-party banks willing to get in on the leasing game, but a tight credit market and massive losses at automaker credit arms have made leasing look very unattractive as lease price begin to rise. Chrysler is hoping a fresh round of incentives will help cushion the blow, as zero percent financing and plenty of cash on the hood is the order of the day for now. Chrysler historically leased about 20% of the vehicles it sold, so if a whole new round of juicier incentives doesn't entice customers to " Shop til you Drive", August may look even worse than July

[Source: Automotive News - subs. req'd, Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty]

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