Ford Motor Co. is offering dealers bonuses of $5,000 to $6,000 per car on seven 2016 models to boost struggling car sales and clear lots for newer vehicles.
Four of the models are hybrid or electric cars. In a deal that began March 17 and concludes today, April 3, the automaker is offering $5,000 on the 2016 C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid, C-Max Hybrid, Focus Electric and gasoline-powered Fiesta, according to dealer sources who briefed Automotive News about the program. It's offering $6,000 on the Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid and gasoline-powered Taurus and Focus.
Under the program, Ford said dealers do not have to "keep the vehicle for 12 months and/or register them when reported sold to themselves" to be eligible for the incentive, according to a description of the deal issued to dealers. If they resell them to customers, they must disclose the warranty start date.
The automaker said roughly 16,000 vehicles are eligible for the program, which represents roughly 2.8 percent of its total dealer stock through February.
Under similar incentive programs, Ford says 97 percent of vehicles are titled to customers as new-vehicle sales; only 3 percent are sold directly to dealers.
"Ford is offering dealers additional cash incentives to sell a small number of remaining 2016 model year vehicles so dealer lots will have the freshest vehicle stock available for our customers," Ford sales analyst Erich Merkle said in a statement.
Automotive News last year reported on the practice of "punching" vehicles, a strategy to pump up sales performance in which dealers would sell to themselves and then stash the vehicles in loaner fleets or on lots until they were resold later as used. Ford says these vehicles are not being punched because they do not qualify for the company's loaner program.