With school loans, rent and other bills monopolizing a college student’s wallet, how can a person afford a new car? Recently, car makers have addressed this problem by creating discount programs specifically for recent graduates and students closely within reach of a diploma.
Hyundai, Ford, Mazda and GM all offer special rebates or discounts to people who fall into one of the two above categories. In addition to these unique markdowns, car manufacturers such as Honda, Saturn, Toyota and Hyundai are catering to students by offering more options in sleeker looking vehicles with lower price tags.
Hyundai promises a $400 rebate off any new vehicle to those who have graduated within the past 24 months from an accredited institution and to current students who plan to graduate within the next six months. To obtain this rebate, Hyundai requires an official letter from the registrar’s office, or a copy of your diploma, and proof of current or prospective employment, at the time of purchase.
Ford offers a very similar discount, promising a $400 cash bonus to people who have graduated, or plan to graduate, from an accredited college, graduate school, junior college, community college, nursing school or trade school between May 1, 2001 and January 2, 2004. Ford, like Hyundai, also requires proof of graduation and employment, but excludes certain higher-priced vehicles.
"The program has been very successful," said Steve Rennells, a salesman at Joe Machens Ford dealership in Columbia, Mo. "Because we don’t require of lot of established credit, students take advantage of the rebate. We’ve offered this discount for several years now and each one has been successful."
Another incentive attracting students to sign the dotted line and purchase a new car are the increased features, lower prices and more unique designs that stray away from the conventional four-door vehicle.
The Honda Element is being heavily promoted as the perfect student car. With more than 60 possible seating and cargo configurations, this very boxy vehicle is ideal for the multiple moves to and from college and home.
Other features that appeal to students can be found in the higher level EX model, which includes multiple outlets for an MP3 player and video game system, CD player and accompanying 270 watt audio system with seven speakers and an independently controlled subwoofer. The Element is priced at $16,000 for the DX model, while the option loaded EX costs $23,000.
Hyundai has recently reintroduced the sleek, sporty Tiburon to the auto market. Starting at $16,249, this two-door sports car comes standard with power windows and locks, a six-speaker stereo system with CD player and keyless remote entry, while the GT V6 edition includes the above features plus a V6 engine, spoiler, 17" pilot summer tires and leather seating surfaces for a price tag starting at $18,599.
"I recently got a new Tiburon," said Aric Maiden, a student at the University of Missouri-Columbia."I love it. It drives well and looks great and I’ve noticed a few heads turning in my direction when I drive around campus."
Toyota recently expanded its fleet of vehicles by adding the Scion to its collection. Currently, the car is available only in California, but will soon be for sale at dealerships in 23 other states in February of 2004, and the rest of the country in June. The two new models, the Scion xA and xB, are a hybrid of an SUV and a sports car.
The four-door hatchback features many possible seating arrangements, power locks, windows and exterior mirrors, a six-speaker sound system with CD player with MP3 and satellite controller capability as standard options in the xA. The xB is quite different from its counterpart, with a more square-shaped body style and longer list of standard features. The xA has a base price of $12,965 while the xB carries a $14,165 price tag.
Another popular car among college students is the Saturn Ion series, which is available in five different models, including three sedans and two coups. The vehicle is priced between $11,995 and $16,095, though costs can go higher depending on specific options added. The Ion features driver and passenger airbags, dent resistant fender, bumper and doors, and a 140 horsepower engine.
"I’ve had an Ion for about two years now," said Colin Galbraith, a student at the University of Beloit. "It’s still fairly new, but I’ve never had any trouble with it."
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