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True Cost of Incentives for the Top Seven Automakers

Automaker December 2009 November 2009 December 2008

Chrysler Group (Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep) $2,552 $3,146 $3,681

Ford (Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, Volvo) $2,994 $3,070 $3,985

General Motors (Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Hummer, Pontiac, Saab, Saturn)
$4,077 $4,343 $3,554

Honda (Acura, Honda) $1,282 $1,290 $1,209

Hyundai (Hyundai, Kia) $1,866 $2,013 $2,766

Nissan (Infiniti, Nissan) $2,073 $2,147 $2,167

Toyota (Lexus, Scion, Toyota) $1,676 $1,775 $2,071*

Industry Average $2,542 $2,709 $2,862

* Denotes a record

In December 2009, the industry's aggregate incentive spending is estimated to have totaled approximately $2.57 billion, up 26.9 percent from November 2009. Chrysler, Ford and General Motors spent an aggregate of $1.6 billion, or 60.5 percent of the total; Japanese manufacturers spent $621 million, or 24.1 percent; European manufacturers spent $279 million, or 10.8 percent; and Korean manufacturers spent $118 million, or 4.6 percent.

Among vehicle segments, premium luxury cars had the highest average incentives, $4,838 per vehicle sold, followed by large SUV at $4,831. Subcompact cars had the lowest average incentives per vehicle sold, $1,047, followed by compact cars at $1,491. Analysis of incentives expenditures as a percentage of average sticker price for each segment shows large trucks averaged the highest, 12.4 percent, followed by large SUVs at 11.9 percent of sticker price. Sport cars averaged the lowest with 4.7 percent and premium sport cars followed with 4.8 percent of sticker price.

Comparing all brands, in December Scion spent the least, $361 followed by smart at $413 per vehicle sold. At the other end of the spectrum, Saturn spent the most, $5,925, followed by Pontiac at $5,882 per vehicle sold. Relative to their vehicle prices, Pontiac and Saturn spent the most, 24.2 percent and 21.6 percent of sticker price, respectively; while Porsche spent 1.5 and Subaru spent 2.0 percent.

"In reality, the sale on Pontiacs and Saturns was totally overhyped, in part because there weren’t that many to sell," commented Senior Analyst Michelle Krebs in her report on Edmunds' “However, the urgency of the closeout sale motivated people to storm the dealerships – a pure psychological reaction to a shortage.”'s monthly True Cost of IncentivesSM (TCISM) 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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