December deals, incentives got head start in November

(January 3, 2013) SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Even as automakers swarmed airwaves with year-end deals and promotions, automotive incentives remained stable in December, reports According to's True Cost of Incentives (TCI) report, the average new car incentive was $2,286 in December, down 0.8 percent from November and down 1.0 percent from December 2011.

But this doesn't mean that automakers were not offering year-end deals. Instead, says, it simply means that those year-end deals started early.

"Deals really started to jump in November, when automakers boosted incentives almost six percent," says Edmunds Senior Analyst Jessica Caldwell. "So those 2012 closeout ads on TV weren't just illusions. The early start to year-end sales simply gave car buyers more time to consider all of the deals available and to make a better choice for their next new car."

Average True Cost of Incentives (TCI) by Car Manufacturer

Manufacturer Dec-12 Nov-12 Dec-11 Dec 2012 vs Nov 2012 Dec 2012 vs Dec 2011
Chrysler $2,704 $2,798 $2,626 -3.4% 3.0%
Ford $3,229 $2,817 $3,109 14.6% 3.9%
GM $3,228 $3,067 $3,227 5.2% 0.0%
Honda $1,138 $1,214 $1,199 -6.3% -5.1%
Nissan $2,504 $2,913 $2,388 -14.0% 4.9%
Toyota $1,903 $1,835 $1,602 3.7% 18.8%
Industry $2,286 $2,305 $2,308 -0.8% -1.0%

Not all car brands started their promotions early, however. In fact, some lucky car shoppers — especially luxury brand shoppers — had their patience rewarded if they delayed purchases to December. Infiniti, for example, increased its spend 12.9 percent from November to December, while Volvo (+12.5 percent) and Lexus (+11.2 percent) also spent significantly more.