Chrysler dangles deals: Lease truck, get van free

By From detnews| Apr 23 2007
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Chrysler dangles deals: Lease truck, get van free

Forget freebies like a DVD or Hemi engine when you buy or lease your next Chrysler vehicle. How about a free minivan?

Bob Saks Dodge of Farmington Hills has started a new promotion where customers who lease a 2007 Dodge Ram 1500 SLT Quad Cab get a (nearly) free two-year lease on a 2007 Dodge Caravan SXT minivan.

The deal is an example of a slew of eye-popping offers by Chrysler dealers in the Metro Detroit area to move some metal.

Other Chrysler dealers are offering rock-bottom lease rates, as low $19 a month for a Dodge Caravan SXT minivan with an employee discount.

The buy-one, get-one-free deal comes with a few conditions, said Bob Sakes sales manager Matt Higham.

Customers must be eligible for one of Chrysler's employee discount programs, currently lease a Chrysler, Dodge or Jeep vehicle and have good credit.

They also have to pay taxes, destination and acquisition fees and other routine charges for both the Ram and the "free" Caravan. The lease rate for the Ram is $178 a month. The mileage limit is 10,500 a year on both vehicles.

Targeting excess stock

Chrysler and its dealers have been trying to keep sales from falling amid trying times. Competition is tougher than ever and the possibility DaimlerChrysler AG will sell the U.S. division could scare off some customers.

The automaker overbuilt 2006 models and is still trying to unload the excess vehicles. According to J.D. Power's Power Information Network, 14 percent of vehicles sold in early April were 2006 models.

Only 3 percent of Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp.'s sales in early April were 2006 models -- with the rest 2007 and 2008 models.

But good deals and good service can pull Chrysler through a tough period, said Michael Smith, general manager at Northwestern Dodge in Ferndale.

"Times are tough all over if you mentally think they are," he said. "But if you treat the customer right, then you will make the sales that you need to make."

The dealership has lease offers as low as $79 a month on Caravan minivans and $129 on Dodge Ram pickups for those consumers with top-notch credit.

For the spring selling season, it isn't uncommon to see an increase in offers by dealers, Chrysler spokesman Markus Mainka said.

Deals show creativity

In March, Chrysler offered a free Hemi Engine to new Ram and Durango SUV buyers. The automaker followed with a free DVD program this month on its Dodge and Chrysler minivans.

And Chrysler recently added some bonus cash on a number of new vehicles to finish April on a high note.

Dealers are adding their own twists.

At Meadowbrook Dodge -- some 30 miles northwest of Bob Saks -- Chrysler employees can get a two-year lease on a Caravan SXT for $19.65 monthly with $1,999 down. A Dodge Ram can be purchased for $93 per month with the same amount down.

But buyer beware, said Alex Rosten, analyst with Edmunds.com, a research Web site for car buyers. Buyers should carefully read the fine print to make sure they know exactly how much they will be paying.

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