DETROIT -- Detroit's automakers drove consumer incentives up to record highs last month, spending a combined average of more than $4,000 per vehicle to help lure customers into showrooms, an industry research firm said on Thursday.
It was the first time overall incentives from the traditional Big Three automakers, whose profits have been battered by a protracted price war, passed the $4,000 mark, according to Edmunds.com.
The online research firm said General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler's Chrysler division spent an average of $4,011 per vehicle on cash rebates, cheap loans and other deals to boost sales of new cars and trucks in July, up $192 from June.
The biggest spender, GM, had an average incentive of $4,467 on each of its vehicles and its Cadillac division spent the most for the fifth straight month, with discounts totaling $7,878 per vehicle, according to Edmunds.com.
The firm calculates incentives on a sales weighted basis.
Among vehicle segments, it said large sport utility vehicles continued to have the highest average incentives, at $4,885 per vehicle.
Ford spent an average of $3,686 per vehicle on incentives in July and Chrysler came in a distant third at $3,384, Edmunds.com said.
Ironically, Chrysler actually lowered its incentives spending in July, but it was alone among the Big Three in posting higher monthly sales.
Japanese automakers, which are steadily stealing market share from their U.S.-based rivals, spent a combined average of $1,024 on incentives per vehicle in July, up from $921 in June.