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Automakers Aid Customers, Dealers Hit by Hurricane Harvey Disaster

Automakers Aid Customers, Dealers Hit by Hurricane Harvey Disaster

By Philly Murtha, August 29, 2017

Automakers are already assisting consumers and dealers in the Houston area after Category 4 Hurricane Harvey came ashore near Corpus Christi, TX, on Friday, Aug. 25. There’s still potential for a return of the storm that has brought more than 40 inches of rainfall leading to record-breaking flooding and untold damages in southeastern Texas.

Automakers are stepping up with financial relief for auto lessees/owners plus large cash donations for recovery efforts. Ford Motor Co.’s Fund is contributing $100,000 to disaster relief in Texas as well as matching American Red Cross contributions up to $50,000. On Monday, Nissan Group announced that it would give $1 million to Habitat for Humanity, which supports rebuilding of homes after hurricanes such as Katrina and Rita. A large recovery donation also was made by Enterprise Rent-A-Car.

Flooding in Houston, TX, from Hurricane Harvey photoOn the consumer financing side, Toyota and Lexus and General Motors captive finance companies report that they will offer customers in the region impacted by the storm options to delay and extend lease and loan payments. Other automakers are likely to arrange similar deferred-payment plans.

In addition, automakers are supporting 350 dealerships in southeast Texas that have closed their stores due to flooding, power outages, and destruction from Harvey, according to the Texas Automobile Dealers Association. The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) states some 35,000 employees were affected in the storm’s aftermath, according to Automotive News. There are 500 dealerships in the Houston metro area, which is the fourth-most populous in the United States.

Texas is considered the second-largest new-vehicle market in the country after California and the strongest light-truck market. Analysts anticipate that hurricane havoc will curb August new-vehicle sales by 2%, which happens around Labor Day sales events. In addition, there is flood damage to new-vehicle inventory—including pickups and SUVs. These vehicles will need to be replaced, which could boost auto sales later this year. About 360,000 new vehicles on dealer lots in Texas could be damaged from the storm, according to Edmunds. Losses from Hurricane Harvey could reach $30 billion, according to an update on CBS News MoneyWatch.

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