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Edmunds.com Reports True Cost of Incentives for December

January 3, 2008

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Edmunds.com estimated that the average automotive manufacturer incentive in the U.S. was $2,472 per vehicle sold in December 2007, up $197, or 8.7 percent, from November 2007, and up $157, or 6.8 percent, from December 2006.

According to Edmunds.com, combined incentives spending for domestic manufacturers averaged $3,332 per vehicle sold in December 2007, up from $3,140 in November 2007. From November to December, European automakers increased incentives spending by $218 to $2,630 per vehicle sold; Japanese automakers increased incentives spending by $148 to $1,266 per vehicle sold; and Korean automakers increased incentives spending by $46 to $2,195 per vehicle sold.

In December, the industry's aggregate incentive spending is estimated to have totaled approximately $3.38 billion, up 26.7 percent from November. Chrysler, Ford and General Motors spent an aggregate of $2.33 billion, or 68.9 percent of the total; Japanese manufacturers spent $629 million, or 18.6 percent; European manufacturers spent $286 million, or 8.4 percent; and Korean manufacturers spent $139 million, or 4.1 percent.

The majority of the “Big Six” Automakers increased incentive spending from November to December. Chrysler Group spent $3,340 per vehicle sold in December, up from $3,316 in November, but down from $4,179 the year before. Ford’s incentive spending dropped $170 per vehicle sold from November to December to $2,996, a $799 drop from last December. GM spent about $500 more per vehicle in December than in November at $3,563, an increase of more than $1,000 from December 2006. Honda’s incentive spending continued to increase from November, reaching $960, an almost $400 increase from last year. Nissan’s incentive spending dropped slightly from $2,101 in November to $2,080 in December, still a slight increase over the year before. Toyota spent $241 more per vehicle sold in December than in November at $1,063, a $91 increase from December 2006.

"In October and November sales were painfully slow, so in December some automakers took more dramatic steps to attract shoppers and sell off inventory," stated Jesse Toprak, executive director of Industry Analysis for Edmunds.com. "We anticipate that in 2008 automakers will have to continue their generosity, especially in segments that are particularly competitive or especially slow-moving."

Among vehicle segments, large trucks had the highest average incentives, $3,870 per vehicle sold, followed by large cars at $3,731. Compact cars had the lowest average incentives per vehicle sold, $1,005, followed by sports cars at $1,550. Analysis of incentives expenditures as a percentage of average sticker price for each segment shows large cars averaged the highest, 13.6 percent, followed by large trucks at 12.1 percent of sticker price. Luxury sports cars averaged the lowest, 3.3 percent, followed by sports cars at 4.8 percent of sticker price.

"Automakers are targeting their incentives very carefully these days," commented Edmunds' AutoObserver.com Senior Editor Michelle Krebs. "They realize that there is no reason to throw money at those flocking to the fuel-saving compacts and crowd-pleasing sports cars."

Comparing all brands, in December Mini spent the least — virtually nothing — followed by Scion at $175 per vehicle sold. At the other end of the spectrum, Saab spent the most, $6,721, followed by Cadillac at $6,063 per vehicle sold. Relative to their vehicle prices, Saab and Pontiac spent the most, 19.8 percent and 18.7 percent of sticker price, respectively, while Mini spent virtually nothing and Porsche spent just 0.6 percent.

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