With the government shutdown well into week two -- and with no end in sight -- car shoppers may want to start thinking about how furloughed feds and darkened agencies will impact their search for new wheels. While most industry experts agree that the shutdown will probably have minor, if any, repercussions on the car-buying market, they also concur that as the days add up, the shutdown will begin to affect vital automotive oversight services and consumer confidence in three distinct ways.
1. Safety: According to a message posted on www.safercar.gov and reported by The New York Times, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has suspended the review of possible defects, work on new safety regulations, crash tests and federal safety testing of vehicles and equipment. Basically, they’re gone, and no work is happening until the lights flip back on.
Impact: The longer the shutdown lasts, the greater the chance that critical recalls and new vehicle crash tests will be delayed for a longer period.
2. Fuel Economy: According to Cars.com’s Kicking Tires, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is also on a forced holiday, so there will be no new fuel economy ratings posted on fueleconomy.gov, which may ultimately delay the release of new vehicles for sale.
Impact: New vehicle availability may be delayed, as ratings must be assigned before cars hit the marketplace.
3. Payment Deferral: According to Automotive News, Hyundai Motor America is offering furloughed federal workers a loan or lease payment deferral for as long as the government is shut down. Nissan, meanwhile, is casting a wider net, and is offering any qualifying customer a payment deferral of up to three months through its captive lender, Nissan Motor Acceptance Corp.
Impact: Negligible, but it hints at the concern that consumer confidence will weaken if the shutdown lingers.
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