December Incentive Spending

Incentive spending, rebates to customers and cash to dealers, is the magic elixir that lubricates the new-car marketplace. Customer rebates are well publicized, but dealer incentives, which are hidden from public view, are usually the larger and arguably more important. Auto companies do not publish their incentive spending figures, considering them closely guarded secrets, but outsiders can make an educated guess at the totals, which is exactly what the firm Autodata has done. We took a look at the incentive spending estimates for December 2009 to see which cars sell themselves and which need to be blasted out the showroom door with a fire hose full of money. Keep in mind that incentive spending can vary tremendously from month to month, so the December figures are only a snapshot, although a fascinating one.

Average spending by brand (and models with the lowest and highest spending)

Acura $2598 (ZDX $1235, RL $4663)

Audi $3008 (R8 $699, A8/S8 $7733)

BMW $4628 (1-series $2341, 6-series $11,063)

Buick $4049 (LaCrosse $3208, Enclave $4726)

Cadillac $4357 (SRX $1375, XLR $13,513)

Chevrolet $3444 (Camaro $500, Suburban $6216)

Chrysler $3628 (Sebring $2601, 300 $4258)

Dodge $2994 (Challenger $514, Viper $4281)

Ford $2512 (Transit Connect $495, Edge $5071)

GMC $4162 (Terrain $1885, Yukon $5434)

Honda $1254 (S2000 $188, Ridgeline $1965)

Hummer $4911 (H3T $3715, H3 $5385)

Hyundai $1672 (Tucson $452, Santa Fe $2517)

Infiniti $5891 (EX35 $4355, M35/45 $8355)

Jaguar $4645 (XF $4129, XJ $10,836)

Jeep $3082 (Wrangler $1304, Grand Cherokee $5327)

Kia $2644 (Soul $1368, Sorrento $5450)

Land Rover $2513 (Range Rover Sport $1522, Range Rover $4087)

Lexus $1600 (GX470 $1119, GS Hybrid $2792)

Lincoln $4549 (MKT $3184, MKX $6089)

Mazda $1468 (Mazda5 $1236, RX8 $3229)

Mercedes-Benz $4053 (CL, SLR, G $0, SL $17,154)

Mercury $3866 (Milan $2151, Grand Marquis $3984)

Mini $890

Mitsubishi $2915 (Eclipse $1905, Raider $5660)

Nissan $2501 (GT-R $0, Armada $5795)

Pontiac $5759 (G3 $5390, Solstice $6313)

Porsche $3647 (Panamera $176, Cayenne $5649)

Saab $6986 (9-3 $6596, 9-7X $9020)

Saturn $6628 ($0 Astra, $7725 Sky)

Scion $805 (xB $738, tC $869)

Smart $1132

Subaru $890 (Impreza $722, Tribeca $1670)

Suzuki $3394 (SX4 $3194, XL-7 $4788)

Toyota $1818 (Tacoma $149, Camry/Solara $3002)

Volkswagen $1335 (Jetta $616, Touareg $4945)

Volvo $4968 (XC60 $3522, S80 $7657)

The following models had $0 incentive spending:
Saturn Astra, Ford Crown Victoria (only available to fleets), Nissan GT-R, Mercedes-Benz CL, Mercedes-Benz SLR, Mercedes-Benz G-class

The brand with the lowest incentive spending in December:
Scion $805

The brand with the highest incentive spending in December:
Saab $6986

The model with the highest incentive spending in December:
Mercedes-Benz SL $17,154

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