It's a tried-and-true practice in the auto sales business: When a competitor is hurting, pump up incentives to lure its customers.
U.S. automakers did just that in February, according to figures released Tuesday by Santa Monica-based Edmunds.com, the automotive information site.
While Toyota struggled to regain market share and consumer confidence amid multiple recalls, America's Big Three of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler combined for incentives averaging $3,374 on every new vehicle sold in the United States.
That was nearly $800 more than the nationwide industry average of $2,588 and $397 above what U.S. automakers averaged per new-car sale in January.
GM led the way, with incentives averaging $3,434 in February, up from $2,885 in January.
However, those generous deals were not enough to keep GM ahead of rival Ford, which last month outsold GM for the first time in nearly a dozen years.
Edmunds said incentives on Ford new-car sales in February averaged $3,301, up from $3,039 in January.
Chrysler incentives in February averaged $3,388, compared with $3,008 in January, Edmunds said.
The incentives, however, come with a price.
Edmunds said GM, Ford and Chrysler spent a combined $1.2 billion, or 58 percent of the national total, on incentives last month.
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