SANTA MONICA, Calif. — estimated that the average automotive manufacturer incentive in the U.S. was $2,603 per vehicle sold in May 2010, down $28, or 1.1 percent, from April 2010, and down $340, or 11.6 percent, from May 2009.

"Inventory levels are relatively low, so many automakers have cut back on incentives," stated Jessica Caldwell, director of industry analysis for "Bargain-hunters planning to hold out for traditional late summer deals would be wise to start shopping now, since there is a less dramatic need for old model year clearance sales this year and the 2010 inventory is already slim pickings.”

According to, combined incentives spending for domestic manufacturers averaged $3,366 per vehicle sold in May 2010, up from $3,298 in April 2010. From April 2010 to May 2010, European automakers decreased incentives spending by $211 to $2,300 per vehicle sold; Japanese automakers decreased incentives spending by $148 to $1,913 per vehicle sold; and Korean automakers decreased incentives spending by $29 to $1,738 per vehicle sold.

True Cost of Incentives for the Top Seven Automakers


May 2010

April 2010

May 2009

Chrysler Group








General Motors















   $2,678 *





Industry Average




*Denotes a record high

In May 2010, the industry's aggregate incentive spending is estimated to have totaled approximately $2.81 billion, up 9.1 percent from April 2010. Chrysler, Ford and General Motors spent an aggregate of $1.7 billion, or 59.7 percent of the total; Japanese manufacturers spent $786 million, or 27.9 percent; European manufacturers spent $208 million, or 7.4 percent; and Korean manufacturers spent $140 million, or 4.9 percent.

"Compared with three years ago, the Japanese automakers have increased their incentives spending by 62 percent while domestic automakers are spending a mere seven percent more," noted Senior Analyst Michelle Krebs in her report on “In the same period, Japanese market share has only increased by two percent while domestic market share went down by 10 percent.”

Among vehicle segments, large trucks had the highest average incentives, $4,650 per vehicle sold, followed by premium sport car at $3,892. Sport cars had the lowest average incentives per vehicle sold, $1,263, followed by subcompact cars at $1,296. Analysis of incentives expenditures as a percentage of average sticker price for each segment shows large trucks averaged the highest, 12.7 percent, followed by compact cars at 11.5 percent of sticker price. Premium luxury cars averaged the lowest with 2.3 percent and sport cars followed with 3.6 percent of sticker price.

Comparing all brands, in May Scion spent the least, $457 followed by Subaru at $667 per vehicle sold. At the other end of the spectrum, Saab spent the most, $6,813, followed by Lincoln at $4,987 per vehicle sold. Relative to their vehicle prices, Saab and Chrysler spent the most, 17.1 percent and 12.2 percent of sticker price, respectively; while Porsche spent 1.7 and Subaru spent 2.6 percent.