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Edmunds.com Reports True Cost of Incentives for September

October 3, 2007

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Edmunds.com estimated that the average automotive manufacturer incentive in the U.S. was $2,293 per vehicle sold in September 2007, down $176, or 7.1 percent, from August 2007, and down $267, or 10.4 percent, from September 2006.

Edmunds.com's monthly True Cost of Incentives (TCI) report takes into account all automakers' various U.S. incentives programs, including subvented interest rates and lease programs, as well as cash rebates to consumers and dealers. To ensure the greatest possible accuracy, Edmunds.com bases its calculations on sales volume, including the mix of vehicle makes and models for each month, as well as on the proportion of vehicles for which each type of incentive was used.

According to Edmunds.com, combined incentives spending for domestic manufacturers averaged $3,156 per vehicle sold in September, down from $3,354 in August. From August to September, European automakers decreased incentives spending by $124 to $2,815 per vehicle sold; Japanese automakers decreased incentives spending by $155 to $1,127 per vehicle sold; and Korean automakers decreased incentives spending by $26 to $1,783 per vehicle sold.

"Some may have thought that this soft market would inspire the automakers to increase their incentives to boost sales, but that isn't happening," stated Jesse Toprak, executive director of Industry Analysis for Edmunds.com. "Actually, many automakers seem determined to stay true to the 'value pricing' strategy that sets MSRPs closer to expected transaction prices. Even though this eliminates generous incentives offers that sometimes catch consumers' eyes, the strategy protects automakers from regularly sending the brand-damaging message that their vehicles are always on sale."

In September, the industry's aggregate incentive spending is estimated to have totaled approximately $2.95 billion, down 18.8 percent from August. Chrysler, Ford and General Motors spent an aggregate of $2.06 billion, or 69.4 percent of the total; Japanese manufacturers spent $547 million, or 18.5 percent; European manufacturers spent $248 million, or 8.4 percent; and Korean manufacturers spent $110 million, or 3.7 percent.

"The currency exchange rate plays a role in the incentives game," commented Edmunds' AutoObserver.com Senior Editor Michelle Krebs. "For example, our analysts have determined that European automakers have offered more generous incentives to American consumers since the Euro gained strength against the dollar."

Among vehicle segments, large trucks had the highest average incentives, $4,036 per vehicle sold, followed by large SUVs at $4,018. Compact cars had the lowest average incentives per vehicle sold, $795, followed by sport cars at $1,100. Analysis of incentives expenditures as a percentage of average sticker price for each segment shows large trucks averaged the highest, 12.8 percent, followed by large cars at 11.2 percent of sticker price. Sport cars averaged the lowest, 3.7 percent, followed by luxury sport cars at 4.1 percent of sticker price.

Comparing all brands, in September Mini spent the least — virtually nothing, followed by Scion at $118 per vehicle sold. At the other end of the spectrum, Saab spent the most, $5,792, followed by Cadillac at $5,698 per vehicle sold. Relative to their vehicle prices, Saab and Jeep spent the most, 17.4 percent and 13.4 percent of sticker price, respectively, while Mini spent virtually nothing and Scion spent just 0.7 percent.

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