According to Autodata, automakers elected to hold the line on incentives over the first three months of the year following a two year period of steady increases. But the year’s short-lived streak was broken last month, as manufacturers increased incentive spending by 3.2% compared to last April to an average of $2,671 per unit. The month’s moderate rise placed spending year-to-date 1% higher than it was over the period last year.

The non-luxury brand most heavily dependent on incentives continued to be Buick. The GM brand not only increased spending by a significant 19% to an average over $6,500 in April, the $5,300 average spent so far this year is nearly 20% more than Chrysler’s second place $4,500. Unfortunately, the added cash hasn’t translated into higher sales as Buick deliveries are down 5% year-to-date.


Chrysler lowered incentives by almost 6% in April, but the brand continues to spend substantially more than its mainstream counterparts. In addition, the $4,400 spent on each redesigned 200 is well above the $3,500 Chevy and Ford are spending on the Malibu and Fusion.

The amount of money Fiat is allocating to discounts is perhaps the most significant of all, as the Italian brand has increased incentives by a whopping 92% this year to an average of $4,000 per unit. In absolute terms, the figure is less than what Buick and Chrysler have spent. However, the fact Fiat’s vehicles are far less expensive mean the brand’s incentive-to-MSRP ratio is higher than it is for the other two.

Moving down the mainstream list, incentives for Chrysler and Fiat’s corporate teammate, Ram, grew by 19% in April to an average of $3,726. Incentives on the Ram pickup reached $3,883 per unit, slightly above the $3,700 Chevy spent on the Silverado and much higher than the roughly $2,000 Ford allocated to the new F150.

Other notable spenders in April included Volkswagen (+10% to an average of $3,188), Chevrolet (+5% to $2,951), and Nissan (+37% to $2,742). With incentives averaging $727, $1,652, and $1,682, respectively, Subaru, Toyota, and Honda spent the least among their peers in April.

Despite pulling back on incentives by 15%, Cadillac’s $5,540 average was still tops among luxury brands in April. Following closely behind was Lincoln, who spent an average of $5,460, while Infiniti and Jaguar spent slightly less at $5,075 and $5,015, respectively.


BMW pushed incentives 13% higher to an average of $4,536, while Mercedes’ average of $3,936 was 30% more than what was spent last April. Fellow German brand Porsche appropriated just $682 per unit toward incentives in April, second lowest to Land Rover’s essentially non-existent $273 average.