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October Incentives Jump From Year-Ago Period, Says

November 3, 2008

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — estimated that the average automotive manufacturer incentive in the U.S. was $2,648 per vehicle sold in October 2008, down $253, or 8.7 percent, from September 2008, and up $471, or 21.6 percent, from October 2007.

"Automakers have to do what they can to stimulate sales while still being fiscally responsible during these shaky economic times," stated Jesse Toprak, executive director of industry analysis for "The industry is still far below the record average incentive of $3,146, which was reached in September 2004."

According to, combined incentives spending for domestic manufacturers averaged $3,718 per vehicle sold in October 2008, down from $4,041 in September 2008. From September 2008 to October 2008, European automakers increased incentives spending by $93 to $2,866 per vehicle sold; Japanese automakers increased incentives spending by $107 to $1,495 per vehicle sold; and Korean automakers increased incentives spending by $101 to $2,417 per vehicle sold.

In October 2008, the industry's aggregate incentive spending is estimated to have totaled approximately $2.3 billion, down 17.4 percent from September 2008. Chrysler, Ford and General Motors spent an aggregate of $1.46 billion, or 63.0 percent of the total; Japanese manufacturers spent $542 million, or 23.5 percent; European manufacturers spent $210 million, or 9.1 percent; and Korean manufacturers spent $104 million, or 4.5 percent.

"Toyota is on track to achieve record market share with record incentive levels, and Honda isn't far behind," commented Edmunds' senior editor Michelle Krebs. "Their incentives programs are getting more aggressive and are catching consumers' eye because they are unusually good deals for those brands. The automakers that tend to offer repetitive incentives will need to do something creative to have their message be heard."

Among vehicle segments, premium luxury cars had the highest average incentives, $8,344 per vehicle sold, followed by large trucks at $5,764. Subcompact cars had the lowest average incentives per vehicle sold, $393, followed by compact cars at $879. Analysis of incentives expenditures as a percentage of average sticker price for each segment shows large trucks averaged the highest, 17.6 percent, followed by large SUVs at 12.0 percent of sticker price. Subcompact cars averaged the lowest with 2.5 percent and compact cars followed with 4.6 percent of sticker price.

Comparing all brands, in October MINI spent the least at $36 followed by Scion at $155 per vehicle sold. At the other end of the spectrum, HUMMER spent the most, $5,587, followed by GMC at $4,889 per vehicle sold. Relative to their vehicle prices, Mercury and HUMMER spent the most, 16.5 percent and 14.6 percent of sticker price, respectively; while MINI spent just 0.2 and Scion spent 0.9 percent.'s monthly True Cost of Incentives 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, 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.

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