Automakers Create Coronavirus Car Payment Plans & Programs in Bid to Boost Flagging Sales

Jack R. Nerad and Christian Wardlaw | May 15, 2020

This story was originally released on 3/16/2020, with the latest update coming on 5/15/2020. Continue to check back for the most up to date information.

In response to the economic uncertainty fueled by the coronavirus pandemic and widespread COVID-19 illness, most automakers are offering existing customers financial assistance with existing leases and loans. These coronavirus car payment programs can help people whose jobs and income are threatened by or have been eliminated due to the outbreak.

Automakers Create Coronavirus Car Payment Plans & Programs in Bid to Boost Flagging Sales

At the same time, special coronavirus car deals attempt to persuade consumers that now is a good time to buy a vehicle They range from long-term, low-rate financing to deferred payments for up to six months.

Every major car manufacturer has announced coronavirus car payment plans and programs, and most automakers are providing some kind of relief to existing customers as the auto industry strives to stave off the double-whammy of plunging new-vehicle sales and rampant car loan defaults and repossessions.

While the automakers’ COVID-19 programs of incentives and sales support were instituted quickly, they are not unprecedented.

"These types of programs have been tools OEMs have used many times over in economic downturns and for inventory control," said James Houston, J.D. Power Managing Director, Consumer Lending and Automotive Finance. "History shows us that automotive sales recover over time, and there will be less need to rely on these types of programs." 

But in times of economic uncertainty, auto manufacturers can't wait for the tide to turn. And even with the industry’s rapid response to the coronavirus pandemic, sales during the first six weeks of the pandemic took a significant hit, with some automakers reporting more than a 50% drop in sales.

What the Auto Manufacturers Are Offering Consumers

In one of the most aggressive and comprehensive programs, Hyundai Motor America revived its Assurance Job Loss Protection program, promising to make up to six months of payments for new customers who lose their jobs by the end of the year due to COVID-19, and who purchased or leased their vehicles through Hyundai Capital between March 14 and May 17, 2020. Additionally, Hyundai offered buyers of selected models a variety of deals, including up to 120 days of deferred payments and zero-interest financing for as long as 84 months.

How did this work out for Hyundai? The automaker reported a decline in retail sales of 28% for April. Compare that to Honda, which saw sales plummet by 54%. Honda did not offer as robust a financial response to the crisis, limiting deferred payments, providing low-interest but not zero-interest loans, and positioning its rare rebate offers as “loyalty cash” reserved for existing Honda owners.

Not all automakers need to go to extremes, however. "Every OEM has a different need based on current inventories and future inventories," J.D. Power's Houston said. "Any program that assures consumers the affordability of the vehicle they are purchasing during uncertain times and gives after-sale support for those who financed their vehicle helps to generate consumer confidence."

Most automakers, including high-end luxury brands, are offering assistance to existing customers ranging from payment deferrals to lease and warranty extensions. Some are also providing free access to certain services such as emergency assistance and an active Wi-Fi hotspot. 

If you find yourself in dire economic straits unable to make a car loan or lease payment, immediately contact the financial institution that made the car loan or financed the lease even if that lender is not linked to the manufacturer. This will enable people who owe money on a loan to discuss their options, which can include flexible payment arrangements and payment extensions. Lessees might be able to arrange deferred lease payments as well.

With consumer confidence in short supply right now carmakers are also scurrying to assure potential car buyers that in most areas of the country their affiliated dealerships are open for both vehicle sales and service. Even so, some people don’t consider it safe to leave home, even with a mask and gloves on.

For service, most automakers are offering touchless drop-off and return, making sure to sanitize the vehicle before the customer retakes possession of the vehicle. Some are even providing valet service, something that luxury brands like Genesis and Lincoln offered well before the coronavirus pandemic.

Online shopping, vehicle purchase, and at-home vehicle delivery are also more popular, with several automakers rapidly ramping up their efforts on this front. While General Motors and its Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and GMC brands have long offered the automaker’s "Shop. Click. Drive." program at participating dealerships, other companies, such as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, are dramatically accelerating online buying programs and tools. In light of the fact that many Americans are self-isolating, automakers hope these options will prompt consumers to reconsider buying a vehicle in what has been and could continue to be a troubling economic time.

Projections for U.S. auto sales for the remainder of 2020 range from dreary to disastrous. One "worst-case" projection from J.D. Power, a scenario in which prolonged COVID-19 infections combine with a long-term economic slowdown, forecasts that new light-vehicle sales could tumble to 12.5 million this year from 16.9 million in 2019. Should the epidemic be shorter-lived, the latest J.D. Power forecast is for 14.5 million light-vehicle sales in 2020.

Coronavirus Car Payment Plans

Here is a quick summary of what major automakers are offering consumers in light of the coronavirus pandemic:

Acura - Find the best deals!

  • For current Acura owners and lessees: Payment and lease extensions, payment deferrals, and late fee waivers are available to customers of Acura Financial Services. Also, current Acura owners can take advantage of up to $500 in loyalty cash to buy or lease a new Acura. Offers expire June 1, 2020.
  • For prospective Acura buyers: Deferred first payment for 90 days when financing a new vehicle through Acura Financial Services; $750 in first-responder assistance to buy or lease a new Acura; low-APR financing for certified used TLX and RDX models. Offers expire June 1, except for first-responder program, which runs until July 6.
  • Related: Acura Coronavirus Financial Relief and New Car Incentives

Audi - Find the best deals!

  • For current Audi owners and lessees: Contact Audi Financial Services for payment assistance necessary due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Audi is also automatically extending warranty coverage on new and certified pre-owned vehicles, and up to $2,000 in owner loyalty cash is also available to buy a new Audi until May 31, 2020.
  • For prospective Audi buyers: Deferred first payment for 60 days on all new purchased Audis and 0% APR financing for up to 72 months on new 2019 model-year Audis when financing through Audi Financial Services. Offers expire on May 31.
  • Related: Audi Coronavirus Financial Relief and New Car Incentives

BMW - Find the best deals!

  • For current BMW owners and lessees: Contact BMW Financial Services for payment assistance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Free maintenance and warranty programs that expired after March 16, 2020 are automatically extended until June 1. BMW is offering pick-up and delivery service for maintenance, and loyalty lease cash up to $1,250 is available to current owners who lease a 2019 or 2020 BMW by June 1.
  • For prospective BMW buyers: On new and certified pre-owned BMWs, 90 days of deferred payments for vehicles purchased between March 1 and June 30. On new and certified pre-owned BMWs purchased by June 1, 0.9% APR financing for up to 60 months plus up to a $2,500 credit. BMW has, however, halted its European delivery program.
  • Related: BMW Coronavirus Financial Relief and New Car Incentives

Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles (Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep, Ram) - Find the best deals!

Ford Motor Company - Find the best deals!

  • For current Ford owners and lessees: Flexible payment arrangements, payment extensions on case-by-case basis for customers of Ford Credit.
  • For prospective Ford buyers: First loan payment deferred for 90 days, and Ford will then make your first three payments. The program excludes leases and is limited to specific models and to a maximum amount of money. Buyers can shop online and take home delivery of a new vehicle. Additional special offers are available to first responders, medical professionals, and members of the military. Offers expire June 1, 2020.
  • Related: Ford Coronavirus Financial Relief and New Car Incentives

General Motors (Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC) - Find the best deals!

Genesis - Find the best deals!

  • For current Genesis owners and lessees: Up to 90 days of deferred payments for current customers who financed through Genesis Finance and who lost a job or suffered a medically-related hardship due to COVID-19 before May 17, 2020.
  • For prospective Genesis buyers: Up to six months of payment waivers for new owners who lose their jobs due to COVID-19 by December 31, 2020 and either purchased or leased a vehicle between March 14 and May 17. No-interest financing for up to 84 months and deferred payments for up to 90 days on 2019 Genesis models. New Genesis Concierge home shopping service with personal concierge guiding buyers through every step of the purchase process, including at-home test-drive opportunities.
  • Related: Genesis Coronavirus Financial Relief and New Car Incentives

Honda - Find the best deals!

  • For current Honda owners and lessees: Payment extensions and deferrals, as well as late fee waivers, are available to customers of Honda Financial Services. Honda is offering up to $1,000 in loyalty cash to buy or lease a new Honda.
  • For prospective Honda buyers: Deferred first payment for 90 days when financing through Honda Financial Services; low-APR financing for certified used Accord, Civic, and CR-V models purchased by June 1, 2020; new Shop Simple online buying program is rolling out nationwide.
  • Related: Honda Coronavirus Financial Relief and New Car Incentives

Hyundai - Find the best deals!

  • For current Hyundai owners and lessees: Up to 90 days of deferred payments for current customers who financed through Hyundai Capital and lost their job or are otherwise unable to work due to COVID-19. Plan covers events occurring between March 14 and May 17. Hyundai also extended warranty protection on older models to prevent expirations between March and June and owners with expiring subscriptions to Blue Link connected services between now and the end of May receive a 3-month extension to service. Hyundai has also introduced ‘contactless’ service procedures at dealerships.
  • For prospective Hyundai buyers: Interest-free financing for up to 84 months and deferred payments for up to 120 days are available on selected vehicles purchased by June 1, 2020. Hyundai also offers up to six months of waived payments for new owners who purchase or lease their vehicle between March 14 and May 17 and lose their job due to COVID-19 between now and December 31, 2020. Healthcare workers and hospital employees are eligible for $500 first responder discount on new Hyundais. New Click to Buy online shopping option with home vehicle delivery.
  • Related: Hyundai Coronavirus Financial Relief and New Car Incentives

Infiniti - Find the best deals!

  • For current Infiniti owners and lessees: Flexible payment arrangements, payment extensions on a case-by-case basis to customers of Infiniti Financial Services.
  • For prospective Infiniti owners and lessees: No payments for up to 90 days and interest-free financing for as long as 72 months when financed through Infiniti Financial Services. Offer is good through June 30, 2020.
  • Related: Infiniti Coronavirus Financial Relief and New Car Incentives

Jaguar/Land Rover - Find the best deals!

  • For current Jaguar and Land Rover owners and lessees: Customers leasing through Jaguar Land Rover Financial Group can extend an expiring lease for up to six months. For existing customers who return for a new lease by June 1, 2020, two payments of up to $750 each are waived.
  • For prospective Jaguar and Land Rover owners and lessees: Interest-free financing for 72 months and deferred first payment for 90 days for vehicles financed through Jaguar Land Rover Financial Group. This offer is good through June 30 and includes the updated 2021 Jaguar F-Type sports car.
  • Related: Jaguar Land Rover Coronavirus Financial Relief and New Car Incentives

Kia - Find the best deals!

  • For current Kia owners and lessees: Up to three 30-day payment extensions granted on a case-by-case basis to people impacted by COVID-19. Available only to Kia Motors Finance customers. Kia is also extending original warranty programs set to expire between March and May 31, 2020. They’re all automatically extended to the end of June.
  • For prospective Kia owners and lessees: Interest-free financing for up to 75 months and deferred first payment for up to 120 days for selected vehicles financed through Kia Motors by June 1. Kia says many dealers are now offering online shopping.
  • Related: Kia Coronavirus Financial Relief and New Car Incentives

Lexus - Find the best deals!

  • For current Lexus owners: Flexible payment arrangements, payment extensions on case-by-case basis through Lexus Financial Services. Some dealerships offer contactless service options.
  • For prospective Lexus owners and lessees: Zero-interest financing for up to 60 months and deferred payments for up to 90 days on select models. Offers expire June 1, 2020.
  • Related: Lexus Coronavirus Financial Relief and New Car Incentives

Lincoln - Find the best deals!

  • For current Lincoln owners and lessees: Flexible payment arrangements, payment extensions on case-by-case basis for customers of Lincoln Automotive Financial Services.
  • For prospective Lincoln buyers: Interest-free financing for up to 72 months and first payment deferred for up to 120 days. Buyers can shop online and take home delivery of a new vehicle, and Lincoln is booking one-on-one video walkaround tours of the Aviator and Corsair models. Additional special offers are available to first responders, medical professionals, and members of the military. Offers are valid on selected models and expire May 31, 2020.
  • Related: Lincoln Coronavirus Financial Relief and New Car Incentives

Maserati - Find the best deals!

  • For current Maserati owners: Maserati recommends contacting your dealer for any assistance you may require
  • For prospective Maserati owners and lessees: No announced programs aside from existing offers

Mazda - Find the best deals!

  • For current Mazda owners: Flexible payment arrangements, payment extensions, and lease extensions on a case-by-case basis through Mazda Capital Services. Current Mazda owners can take advantage of a $1,500 loyalty rebate when buying or leasing a new Mazda. For service and maintenance, free pick-up and drop-off with a loaner car may be available.
  • For prospective Mazda owners and lessees: Mazda is offering up to 90 days of deferred payments on new and certified-used Mazdas, plus zero-interest financing for up to 60 months on new Mazdas when the vehicles are financed through Mazda Financial Services. Mazda is also offering home delivery of new cars. Offers expire on June 1, 2020.
  • For healthcare workers: Mazda launched the Essential Car Care Program to provide a free oil change and enhanced vehicle cleaning for all healthcare workers regardless of the make and model of their vehicle. Some specialized vehicles, however, may be ineligible for this offer, which is available through June 1.
  • Related: Mazda Coronavirus Financial Relief and New Car Incentives

Mercedes-Benz - Find the best deals!

  • For current Mercedes-Benz owners and lessees: Contact Mercedes-Benz Financial Services for assistance due to situations related to COVID-19. Contact your local dealer to ask about pick-up and drop-off service for maintenance and repair.
  • For prospective Mercedes-Benz buyers: Interest-free financing through Mercedes-Benz Financial for up to 36 months on most models and deferral of the first payment for up to 90 days on any model. Offer expires June 1, 2020. Mercedes is also touting online buying and at-home delivery of new vehicles.
  • Related: Mercedes-Benz Coronavirus Financial Relief and New Car Incentives

Mini - Find the best deals!

  • For current Mini owners and lessees: Mini is extending by 30 days vehicle warranty and maintenance plans expiring between March 16 and April 16, 2020. For lease expiration and payment assistance, contact Mini Financial Services.
  • For prospective Mini buyers: Mini is offering waived payments for three months, up to $330 per month. Financing is available for as low as 1.9% (APR) for up to 60 months. Several low-payment lease deals are also available. Customers must take delivery by June 1.
  • Related: Mini Coronavirus Financial Relief and New Car Incentives

Mitsubishi - Find the best deals!

  • For current Mitsubishi owners and lessees: Up to 120 days of deferred payments for vehicles financed through Ally Financial, and lease extensions of up to 30 days are available. New remote check-in procedures are in place during service visits.
  • For prospective Mitsubishi buyers: Up to 90 days of deferred payments and interest-free financing for up to 72 months for vehicles financed through Ally Financial. Offer expires June 1, 2020.
  • Related: Mitsubishi Coronavirus Financial Relief and New Car Incentives

Nissan - Find the best deals!

  • For current Nissan owners and lessees: Rescheduling of payments on a case-by-case basis for vehicles financed through Nissan Motor Acceptance Corporation, and cash loyalty rebates in addition to other incentives to spur new sales with existing Nissan owners.
  • For prospective Nissan buyers: Available for select models, interest-free financing and 90 days of deferred payments plus two additional months of payment relief for new retail customers financing through Nissan Motor Acceptance Corporation. Offer expires June 1, 2020.
  • Related: Nissan Coronavirus Financial Relief and New Car Incentives

Porsche - Find the best deals!

  • For current Porsche owners and lessees: People whose leases through Porsche Financial Services expire in April 2020 can extend lease contracts for up to six months, four months longer than normal. Porsche is also providing a 3-month warranty extension for those that expired in March, April, and May. On a case-by-case basis, lease payment deferrals of 30 or 60 days are available to owners suffering economic hardship. Increasing numbers of Porsche dealerships are also offering valet service for maintenance and repair.
  • For prospective Porsche buyers: Porsche has accelerated the rollout of its online retail program, allowing customers to handle the entire transaction on the internet. Home delivery of new and certified pre-owned Porsches is also available. On selected models, 1.95% APR financing is available for 60 months, with no first payment for 90 days.
  • Related: Porsche Coronavirus Financial Relief and New Car Incentives

Subaru - Find the best deals!

  • For current Subaru owners and lessees: Loan and lease payment extensions for up to 90 days for customers financed through Subaru Motors Finance, and automatic lease period extensions of six months for customers who want it. Some dealers are offering pick-up and drop-off service for maintenance and repair, in addition to more loaner vehicles and mobile repair service. Call your dealer for details.
  • For prospective Subaru buyers: No-interest financing for 63 months on select models purchased by June 1, 2020, plus deferred payments for up to 90 days.
  • Related: Subaru Coronavirus Financial Relief and New Car Incentives

Tesla - Find the best deals!

  • For current Tesla owners and lessees: Reduced contact between car owners and Tesla Rangers, the people who service vehicles on-site or collect a vehicle for transport to a repair facility.
  • For new Tesla buyers: New Tesla Express Delivery and Direct Drop services reduce the amount of interaction during the delivery process. Direct Drop allows most paperwork to be completed digitally but is offered only in select states. Tesla also offers 2.99% APR financing for up to 72 months on its vehicles.
  • Related: Tesla Coronavirus Financial Relief and New Car Incentives

Toyota - Find the best deals!

  • For current Toyota owners: Flexible payment arrangements, payment extensions on a case-by-case basis for customers of Toyota Financial Services.
  • For prospective Toyota brand owners and lessees: Interest-free financing for up to 60 months on Camry, RAV4, and Tacoma models. Deferred first payment for 90 days on new and certified-used vehicles. Offers expire June 1, 2020. Some dealerships are offering online purchase options to help ensure proper social distancing.
  • Related: Toyota Coronavirus Financial Relief and New Car Incentives

Volkswagen - Find the best deals!

  • For current Volkswagen owners: Payment deferments for up to 90 days, lease extensions for up to six months for customers of Volkswagen Credit, and automatic 3-month warranty extensions for those expiring between March 1 and May 31, 2020. Some dealers may offer valet pick-up and drop-off service for maintenance and repairs.
  • For prospective Volkswagen brand owners and lessees: For most new vehicles purchased by June 1, 2020, interest-free financing for up to 72 months and deferred first payment for 120 days are available when using Volkswagen Credit. For most certified pre-owned vehicles purchased by June 30, interest-free financing is available for 60 months. Volkswagen is also offering a waiver of up to six months of payments to car buyers who use Volkswagen Credit and lose their jobs due to economic reasons within a year of purchasing the vehicle.
  • Related: Volkswagen Coronavirus Financial Relief and New Car Incentives

Volvo - Find the best deals!

  • For current Volvo owners: Customers with expiring leases or who are facing financial difficulties related to COVID-19 can call Volvo Car Financial Services to request a lease extension or to discuss payment options. Many Volvo dealers also offer valet pick-up and return service for maintenance and repairs.
  • For prospective Volvo brand owners and lessees: Volvo reminds prospective customers that they can shop for a new vehicle online and have it delivered to their home. Subscribe to a new Volvo through the Care by Volvo program, and the automaker will make the first payment for you. Several Volvo models are available with interest-free financing for up to 60 months, or cash allowances amounting to as much as $3,500.
  • Related: Volvo Coronavirus Financial Relief and New Car Incentives

Remember, in the event that you did not purchase or lease your vehicle through a car company's captive finance arm, such as Ford Motor Credit or Nissan Motor Acceptance Corporation, and you’ve suffered a financial setback due to the COVID-19 pandemic, J.D. Power advises that you contact your finance company or lender directly to set up an amended payment plan or to defer payments.

This article has been updated multiple times since it was first published in mid-March 2020. The information contained in this article was accurate and valid as of May 14, 2020. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, some programs may change. Always confirm specific plan and program details with the automaker or your dealership.

COVID-19: J.D. Power Auto Industry Impact Report
J.D. Power recently introduced a weekly intelligence report, COVID-19: J.D. Power Auto Industry Impact Report, to closely track the effect that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the U.S. automotive industry.
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