another year, another round of employee discount pricing. such incentives gained popularity in the mid-2000s as all detroit automakers rolled out alleged employee discounts for everyone on scores of models, and it's popped up from time to time ever since. this time it's gm, whose employee discount for everyone applies to a slew of 2018 and 2019 model-year cars on its mainstream chevrolet brand.
how much are the savings? which cars get them, and how long do they last? we combed the advertised deals and read a lot of fine print. we also queried lauren langille, a sales and brand spokeswoman for gm. remember, as with all discounts, your price can vary depending on a host of factors — among them your location, your credit, and the particular car and dealer you choose.
which cars are eligible for employee discounts?
as of dec. 27, chevrolet listed employee pricing on all models save the corvette sports car, express van and silverado 3500 heavy-duty pickup truck. specifically, these cars have advertised employee pricing until jan. 2:
- suvs: equinox, suburban, tahoe, traverse, trax
- pickup trucks: colorado, outgoing-generation silverado 1500, silverado 2500
- sedans and hatchbacks: cruze, impala, malibu, sonic, spark
- plug-in cars: bolt ev, volt
- performance cars: camaro
most deals apply to examples from the outgoing 2018 model year, a group that accounts for only about a quarter of new chevrolet inventory on as of this writing. but discounts on the equinox, colorado, spark, sonic, silverado 1500 ld and traverse extend to the 2019 model year. (for the silverado, note that "ld" designates a carryover model year from the prior generation — not the redesigned 2019 silverado 1500.)
how much can i save?
quite a bit on some cars, though it depends which trim level you buy. chevrolet's advertised examples generally combine employee pricing with additional cash allowances, including incentives that require financing with gm. add all the totals up, and it amounts to big discounts:
- 22.4 percent off the 2018 silverado 1500
- 20.0 percent off the 2018-19 spark, 2018-19 sonic and 2018 impala
- 18.5 percent off the 2018 cruze
- 18.3 percent off the 2018 trax
- 16.2 percent off the 2018 malibu
- 15.1 percent off the 2019 equinox
- 14.5 percent off the 2018 tahoe
- 14.4 percent off the 2018 suburban
- 13.9 percent off the 2018 silverado 2500
- 12.1 percent off the 2018 volt (before applicable tax incentives)
- 10.6 percent off the 2018 bolt ev (before applicable tax incentives)
- 11.4 percent off the 2018 colorado
- 8.3 percent off the 2018 camaro
- 8.0 percent off the 2019 traverse
naturally, caveats abound. advertised eye-popping dollar values — more than $11,000 off the suburban and tahoe, for example — apply to high-trim examples of their respective models. employee discounts still apply to lower trims, but expect to get fewer total dollars (and possibly a different percentage discount) off those. fleet sales are generally excluded, and the program doesn't apply to base trims for some models.
what if i don't finance with gm?
you'll still get a discount, but it probably won't be as much. employee pricing "is not exclusive to financing with gm financial," langille said. "the discount is greater if you choose to go with gm financial, but not conditional upon that."
how much could you stand to lose? take the tahoe's 14.5 percent discount, which amounts to a hefty $11,152 off a loaded tahoe premier. most of that number ($7,402) is part of gm's employee discount offer, but about a third of it ($3,750) is "part of a gm financial offer," langille said.
of course, you generally can't combine cash discounts that require financing through an automaker with special financing offers from the same automaker. put another way, the extra cash usually requires you to finance at standard rates, not discounted rates. it's worth shopping around for a third-party loan if gm's standard rates seem high, but do the math to ensure your alternate offer would save more cash over the life of the loan than the discounts you'd forego by not financing with gm.
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do employee discounts vary based on region?
not at their core, but your total discounts could vary based on additional incentives eligible in some areas. employee pricing is "a national discount, so all eligible vehicles get the same pricing nationally," langille said. "regional differences will occur if there are other regional cash incentives that are compatible with the employee discount for everyone offer."
do employee discounts have any lease or finance deals?
it depends. the program primarily advertises cash discounts, but some vehicles also have employee-pricing lease deals. remember, the program can still lower your lease or finance payment simply by discounting the full price. all other factors being equal, a cheaper car equals a lower monthly payment.
even absent discount financing rates, standard rates remain fairly reasonable even as interest rates creep upward. bankrate pegs the average 60-month new-car loan at 4.96 percent as of dec. 19. offers for zero percent financing are notably absent in chevrolet's advertised employee pricing program, but such offers typically apply only to those with top-tier credit. advertised rates notwithstanding, many shoppers may not have been able to secure them anyway.
what about employee pricing on gm's other brands?
chevrolet is the only brand right now to offer employee pricing for all shoppers. gm's other u.s. brands (buick, cadillac and gmc) don't have a similar program. but their programs are still substantial, depending on the car. the trax, for example, is a corporate sibling to the buick encore — and buick's holiday discount program knocks the same 20 percent off most 2019 model-year examples.
of course, gm employees remain eligible for employee discounts from those brands.
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