Eric's Autos: The Corona Car
There actually is a Corona -- not the virus, the car.
Toyota sold it as recently in 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 the coronavirus.
Unlike toilet paper -- which is becoming scarce and expensive -- new cars are stacking up and becoming less expensive, because people -- who are staying home -- aren't buying them. Per Warren Buffett's advice about investing in a bear market, this presents what could prove to be an unprecedented opportunity.
Because you have unprecedented leverage -- if you're not paralyzed by fear about the coronavirus, and willing to go car shopping while most people stay home, trying to avoid being sneezed on by the corona-afflicted. You will likely be welcomed at the dealership like Hernan Cortes by Montezuma, assuming the dealership isn't closed because of fear about the virus.
You will also want to line up your financing ASAP -- before the banks close because of fear about the coronavirus. This may happen soon, too -- so 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-crisis -- 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 the coronavirus. Ford's profits are down an almost unbelievable 99% compared with 2018. General Motors' earnings are down about 18% over the same time period, and -- 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 third-place Dodge Ram sail past the misfiring Chevy and become the new No. 2.
But Fiat Chrysler Automobiles -- the parent company of Ram -- has its own troubles. Some of them are coronavirus-related, but others predate the crisis. 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 U.S.) and whether to commit any resources to updating the ancient model lineup of the Dodge and Chrysler brands, most of which haven't been updated significantly since 2007.
Nissan is in free-fall 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 Brink's truck full of Nissan's money.