September Fire Sale Saw Record Discounts On '03 Car Models

By Agence France-Presse Automakers offered record discounts on new vehicles from the 2003 model year last month as they sought to clear out old inventory to make way for updated and new models, according to figures released Oct. 29 by auto analysis firm Edmunds.com. Indirect and direct subsidies translated into an average discount of 18.3% below sticker price per vehicle -- a record low for the 2003 model year -- during September's fire sale, Edmunds.com said. The average manufacturers' incentive per vehicle was $2,622 in September, up almost 30% from the previous September but virtually flat from August, Edmunds.com said. The figures show no let up in Detroit's almost two-year-long price wars, bearing out remarks to that effect by senior executives at the Big Three automakers. General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group continued to lead the way on incentives spending, although GM eased off slightly. The world's No. 1 automaker reduced its spending by 5.3% to $3,812 per vehicle. DaimlerChrysler AG's U.S. unit also pulled back, reducing incentives spending by 3.6% to just over $3,000 per vehicle. Ford, however, increasing spending by 5.3% to $3,655 per unit. The imports continued to bring up the rear: European automakers spent $1,753; Korean automakers spent $1,384 and Japanese automakers spent $965 per vehicle sold, according to Edmunds' analysis of final sales figures and incentives spending. "Our research shows that 69% of new vehicle buyers selected 2003 model year vehicles in September -- the traditional turn of the model year -- taking advantage of low prices and the vast selection still available," said Jane Liu, executive director of data analysis for Edmunds.com. The Santa Monica, Calif., company uses real sales data and factors in all subsides, including dealer cash, rebates, cheap loans and lease programs, when calculating its figures. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2003

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