A summer incentive blitz, if there is one, would only put off the inevitable: Detroit's domestic brands will sink below 50 percent of the market in coming months - maybe as early as this month.
A few grand more on the hoods of domestic nameplates surely would slow the process. But the trend line is inescapable.
The Motown meltdown really got messy in the first half of 2007. In June, General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and the Chrysler group clung to just 50.2 percent of the new-vehicle market, a historic low. Last June, their combined share was 56.0 percent.
Now the Detroit 3 face tough decisions. Do they pile on the spiffs in a bid to stop the bleeding?
There are signs of that happening. Paul Ballew, GM's top sales analyst, says GM was outspent on incentives in June, especially by Toyota on the Tundra pickup against the redesigned Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra.
"We're evaluating our options right now," Ballew says. "Watch this space."
Meanwhile, the Japanese are piling on the pressure. Toyota, Honda and Nissan are moving aggressively to grab share. Incentives for the Japanese Big 3 rose in June compared with May. In fact, Edmunds.com says incentive spending for most Asian automakers is up this year, even on models that are selling well.
Japanese brands snatched 37.5 percent of the market last month, up from 32.5 percent in June of 2006. The Japanese were at 36.5 percent from January through June, up from 33.8 percent in the first six months of 2006.
All in all, it was a dismal six months for the Detroit 3. The domestics' share fell to 51.9 for the first half of the year, down from 54.9 percent for the first half of 2006.
Sinking below half the market would a milestone for the Detroiters - a miserable one.
"The chances of it happening next month are better than 70 percent," says Art Spinella, head of CNW Marketing Research in Bandon, Ore.
But the Detroit 3 have been easing profit-draining incentives in 2007, hoping new products would bolster sales.