The Corona Special

There actually is a Corona—not the virus, the car.

Toyota sold it as recently as 2001, in Japan and before Corona acquired other connotations. It was slightly larger and nicer than the more well-known Corolla, which Toyota still sells everywhere. You have probably seen third-gen Coronas (1964-1970) in ’60s Godzilla movies. Well, models of Coronas being stomped on by a guy wearing a rubber Godzilla suit.

Anyhow, now might be a great time to go shopping for a new Corona car. Not a refurbished Corona. A whatever-you’re-interested-in new car.

Because of Corona.

Unlike toilet paper, which is becoming scarce and expensive, new cars are stacking up and so becoming less expensive, because people who are staying home aren’t buying them. Per Warren Buffet’s advice about investing in a bear market, this presents what could prove to be an unprecedented opportunity.

You have unprecedented leverage if you’re not paralyzed by fear and willing to go car shopping while most people stay home.

You will also want to line up your financing ASAP before the banks close because of fear about Corona. This may happen soon, too, so better hurry.

If you can get your money or your loan lined up, and the dealer’s doors are still open, the odds actually will be forever in your favor for once. Or at least, for long enough to drive home a Corona car for much less than you would have probably had to spend on the same thing pre-Corona, just a week or two ago.

Because it’s not just dealers who are getting edgy about the situation — and it’s not just because of Corona.

Ford’s profits are down an almost unbelievable 99 percent vs. 2018.

GM’s earnings are down about 18 percent over the same time period. An ominous harbinger about GM’s future—it is losing ground in the critical-to-profitability truck market. For the first time in memory, the Chevy Silverado 1500 is not the country’s second-best-selling pickup. A controversial (read, ugly) restyle (and the decision to put a four-cylinder engine in a full-size truck) helped the previously and perennially number-three Dodge Ram sail past the misfiring Chevy and become the new number two.

But FCA, the parent company of Ram, has its own troubles. Some of them are Corona-related but also predate Corona. It recently got bought up by French car combine Peugeot, which will have to figure out what to do about the Fiat Flop (in the US) and whether to commit any resources to update the ancient model lineup of the Dodge and Chrysler brands—most of which haven’t been updated significantly since circa 2007.

Nissan is in freefall after the finance fiasco surrounding the exit-stage-left of former CEO Carlos Ghosn, who took Nissan’s reputation along for the ride, in addition to a Brinks truck full of Nissan’s money.

The bottom line is the car industry isn’t healthy which means it’s a very good time to buy a new car.

Buyers can get incentives from both manufacturers and dealers—whatever it takes to get you into one of their cars and off their books.

The longer a car sits, the more it costs. Put another way, it costs the dealer less money to sell you a car for under-sticker than it costs him or her to pay the interest/carrying costs for another month or several, if no one else comes to buy the car after you leave.

Keep in mind, also, that “under sticker” doesn’t necessarily mean the dealership is giving away the car at a loss. He or she will still probably make money on the deal because of things like holdbacks—money paid by the manufacturer to the dealer that you don’t know about but which makes the deal viable for the dealership.

The salesman may put on a bravura performance, and you may believe you got your new Corona Special for less than it cost to build it.

You probably didn’t.

But that doesn’t mean you didn’t get a deal.

Of course, it also doesn’t mean you’ll be able to drive your new Corona car if the fear continues to take hold and restrictions on driving take hold. But at least you’ll have something new and pretty to look at in your garage.


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