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Deals of the week: A behind-the-scenes look at the pickup price wars

2014 Chevrolet Silverado

General Motors

Savvy shoppers who follow the car market as closely as Deals of the Week will have spotted an evolving mini-crisis at General Motors – and it has the potential to save buyers thousands of dollars.

No, we're not talking about old Chevy Cobalts and their faulty ignition switches. The recall issues there are no small matter, but we are instead referring to slack sales of GM's reinvented full-size pickups. Last month, General Motors in the U.S. was stunned to see what has become somewhat commonplace in Canada – Chrysler's Ram 1500 outsold Chevrolet's Silverado.

In response, as and Reuters report, Chevrolet began offering discounts of up to $8,162 on the light-duty Silverado 1500 and up to $8,974 on the heavy-duty Silverado 2500HD earlier this month in the U.S. (figures in U.S. dollars). The reports further noted that some dealer discounts around the United States were even higher – up to around $10,000 – on the Silverado and its sister model, the GMC Sierra – the result of dealers adding their own cash to the factory deals.

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In Canada, the deals are also rich, though the market conditions are different. Indeed, the Ram has been out-selling the Silverado and Sierra for some time now. How tough is the market for GM overall? DesRosiers Automotive reports that Sierra sales are down 5.9 per cent this year, while Silverado sales are off a whopping 15.7 per cent. Meanwhile, Ram sales are up 3.0 per cent, with F-Series up a more modest 1.0 per cent.

GM certainly did not expect to be slapping on fat sales sweeteners right now, not on pickups that were completely reinvented for the 2014 model year. The General was convinced its evolutionary approach to reinventing the Sierra/Silverado was spot on, ideally suited to what the company believes are generally conservative and brand-loyal buyers. These are buyers who eschew gadgets, daring design, novel power train offerings and marketing spin in favour of mainstream design, affordable and reliable performance, and consistently good fuel economy from traditional gasoline engines.

Oops. GM seems to have misread the market. Consider: Ford has had massive success with its EcoBoost engine approach (which combines turbocharging with direct fuel injection to create V-6 engines with V-8 power), despite the fact EcoBoost is effective at saving fuel only if the driver is careful with the throttle foot.

On top of that, the F-Series is an old design which the world knows is soon to be partially replaced by a new, aluminum-centric pickup. Yet the F is flying off dealer lots at least in large part thanks to the marketing success of EcoBoost, a real attention-grabber.

Meanwhile, Chrysler's bold Ram styling and the truck's excellent road manners have brought their own sales rewards. Add in the eyeballs Ram is getting for launching a new light-duty diesel – the only light diesel pickup available in Canada and the U.S. – and you have the makings of winner.

But that is not the whole story. Pickups are incredibly profitable for all three Detroit auto makers, and that gives them room to pump sales with giveaways. And that's where shoppers will find more to this tale.

True, fat incentives damage profits, but when one company drops a sales sweetener bomb, the others must respond with their own artillery. Yes, there is a price war going on in pickups, though GM in Canada has not been quite as aggressive as its American counterpart.

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"Unfortunately," notes Shari Prymak of Car Help Canada, "GM Canada isn't matching the U.S. incentives. Currently, Silverado/Sierra 1500 buyers can get a $4,250 rebate, plus another $1,000 loyalty discount if they already own a pickup. That can all be combined with 0.0 per cent financing for 48 months, 1.9 per cent for 60 months, or 2.9 per cent for 72 months."

Prymak also notes that GM's heavy duty 2500 pickups have $6,000 in rebates, but they can't be combined with the 0.0 per cent financing. However, it's expected that "incentives will sweeten up when the aluminum-bodied 2015 F-150s hit dealerships. Maybe even sooner if the Ram Eco Diesel turns into a hit."

Heat up? Conditions are already pretty warm. Aside from GM's deals, Andrew Tai of points out that Ford of Canada already has some $8,500 in factory offers on the F-Series, and they can be combined with 3.49 per cent financing for 48 or 60 months. Add in a dealer discount that could range up to $3,800 or more and you can see why the F-Series remains Canada's best-selling vehicle, period – even though the truck itself is the oldest design on the market.

Over at Chrysler Canada, Tai points to an $8,500 factory rebate on the Ram, plus a dealer discount that could run to $2,800 or more, plus 3.99 per cent financing for 48 or 60 months.

And the pickup story is just the tip of the iceberg. Consider Hyundai. As Deals reported earlier, Hyundai Canada has grabbed plenty of attention with its latest "Dealer Invoice Price" promotion, prompting rivals to respond.

Nissan, notes Tai, "is not taking it lightly and announced an extra $1,000 stackable 'Spring Bonus' rebate on almost all 2014 models (except the Rogue) valid from Apr 10th to Apr 16th." And did buyers notice that the popular Rogue in SV and SL trims went up $200 in March? As always, car shoppers simply must keep tabs on the ever-changing conditions.

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Deals of the Week consulted with, Car Help Canada,, and other sources on these offers. As usual, pricing information here is subject to change and dealer discounts vary, so consult your dealer for all the final details, including expiry dates for all offers.

2014 Chevrolet Silverado LT Z71 General Motors General Motors  

2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 4WD Crew Cab Short Box LT w/1LT

  • MSRP: $41,225
  • Freight, dealer prep, air conditioning tax: $2,297
  • Dealer discount (estimated): $3,200
  • Factory discount: $4,250 (manufacturer incentive)
  • Taxable subtotal: $36,072
  • Total price with 13% HST: $40,761.36
  • 0.0% financing for 48 months and 1.99% financing for 60 months available with manufacturer incentive

2014 Audi TT Audi Audi  

2014 Audi TT 2dr Cpe quattro 2.0T

  • MSRP: $49,500
  • Freight, dealer prep and air conditioning tax: $2,130
  • Dealer discount (estimated): $2,500
  • Factory discount: $4,000 (manufacturer incentive)
  • Taxable subtotal: $45,130
  • Total price with 13% HST: $50,996.90
  • $1,500 factory incentive available with 2.90% financing for 48-60 months

2014 Fiat 500 Chrysler Chrysler  

2014 FIAT 500 Lounge

  • MSRP: $20,595
  • Freight, dealer prep, AC tax: $1,830
  • Dealer discount (estimated): $700
  • Factory discount: $2,500 (manufacturer incentive)
  • Taxable subtotal: $19,225
  • Total price with 13% HST: $21,724.25
  • 3.99% financing for 48 or 60 months available with factory incentive

2012 Toyota Sienna LE V6Paul GiamouPaul GiamouPaul Giamou 

2014 Toyota Sienna 5dr LE 7-Pass AW

  • MSRP: $36,190
  • Freight, PDI, AC tax: $1,825
  • Dealer discount (estimated): $1,800
  • Taxable subtotal: $36,215
  • Total price with 13% HST: $40,922.95
  • Factory discount: $2,500 (manufacturer incentive)
  • Final price: $38,422.95
  • Factory incentive not available with 0.0% financing for 48 or 60 months
  • Pricing information source: and Calculations based on Ontario customers. Please note that while the information above is accurate at the time of publication, incentives are given at the discretion of individual dealers, and may be changed or discontinued at any time. Where noted, “dealer discounts” are negotiated with the customer on a case-by-case basis. Unhaggle Savings are actual discounts received by Unhaggle customers.


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About the Author
Senior writer, Globe Drive

In 25 years of covering the auto industry, Jeremy Cato has won more than two-dozen awards, including three times being named automotive journalist of the year. Jeremy was born in Montreal and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. More


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