Strong Sales Let Automakers Hold the Line on Incentives in March, Reports

Strong Sales Let Automakers Hold the Line on Incentives in March, Reports

Strong Sales Let Automakers Hold the Line on Incentives in March, Reports

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — April 3, 2012 — March's incentive spending on new car sales decreased month-over-month, suggesting that surging auto sales are being driven more by consumer demand than sweet deals at the dealership, according to an analysis of's True Cost of Incentives® (TCISM). reports that the average TCISM per vehicle in March was $2,142, down 3.2 percent from February, and down 9.5 percent from March of last year.

"Last month's incentive spending was unseasonably low; incentives haven't been this low in March since 2002," said Senior Analyst Jessica Caldwell. "The auto manufacturers apparently like what they see in the sales landscape and they clearly feel that they can maintain their momentum while staying disciplined on incentives."

The most notable shift in spending among the Big Six automakers came from Honda, whose spending fell 15.9 percent month over month and a whopping 45.9 percent year over year. Its average spend of $954 per vehicle in March was just the second month that Honda fell below the $1,000 threshold since late 2009.

Average True Cost of Incentives® (TCISM) by Car Manufacturer
Manufacturer 12-Mar 12-Feb 11-Mar Mar 2012 vs Feb 2012 Mar 2012 vs Mar 2011
Chrysler $2,486 $2,524 $2,882 -1.5% -13.7%
Ford $2,766 $2,797 $3,012 -1.1% -8.2%
GM $3,312 $3,253 $3,259 1.8% 1.6%
Honda $954 $1,135 $1,765 -15.9% -45.9%
Nissan $2,459 $2,835 $2,367 -13.3% 3.9%
Toyota $1,398 $1,447 $1,968 -3.4% -29.0%
Industry $2,142 $2,212 $2,368 -3.2% -9.5%

General Motors stood out as the only manufacturer to raise its incentive spending last month. GM's average TCISM per vehicle rose 1.8 percent from February to March, and 1.6 percent year over year.

Car buyers looking for bargains in March found the best deals from Chevrolet and Mazda. These two automotive brands offered the biggest discounts off their average MSRPs last month, at 10.7 percent and 10.5 percent, respectively. Shoppers can always find the vehicles with the most compelling deals on's True Market Value® Deals of the Month page.'s monthly True Cost of Incentives® (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.

About, Inc. (, the premier online resource for automotive information, launched in 1995 as the first automotive information Web site. Its acclaimed mobile site, Android App and five-star Edmunds iPhone and iPad apps make car pricing and other research tools available for car shoppers at dealerships and on the go. Its automotive enthusiast web site,, is the most-read car publication of its kind. Its highly regarded mobile site and iPhone app features the wireless Web's most comprehensive gallery of automotive photos and videos. Inc. is headquartered in Santa Monica, California, and maintains a satellite office in suburban Detroit. Follow on Twitter@edmunds and fan on Facebook.

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