According to Edmunds.com, U.S. automakers offered an average incentive of $2,902 per vehicle last month, a full 18% more than the average recorded in December 2007. In stark contrast, sales figures also showed a distinct discrepancy with overall sales percentages down 35.6% from December 2007. Despite the hefty discounts offered to consumers, analysts cite consumer confidence (or lack thereof) for the failure of automakers to attract business. Explained Edmunds.com analyst Jennifer Caldwell, “They’ve been spending more and more money to try and entice anyone to come into a showroom…but it’s not really leading to any more sales.”
Not surprisingly, although both domestic and foreign automakers alike were literally paying consumers to buy their vehicles, the juiciest incentive packages were offered by Detroit. In terms of raw dollars; Ford took home the title with a whopping $4,029 per vehicle while Chrysler and GM trailed not far behind, posting averages of $3,667 and $3,661 respectively. Individually, Lincoln and Saab spent the most per vehicle, each brand shelling out an average of $5k apiece. Not to be outdone, Toyota Motors also posted record-breaking incentive percentages for December, closing out 2008 with a staggering 87% jump in cash-back offerings ($1,995 per vehicle).
Despite the failure of the generous incentive packages to jump-start lagging sales, Caldwell doesn’t expect automakers to tighten their purse strings with consumers. “A lot of consumers are used to these deals. Once you put it out there, it’s hard to take it back.”