FRANKLIN, Tennessee: Such is the diminishing enthusiasm of Joe and Josephine Public to lavish their dollars on new automobiles, that even Japanese manufacturers have joined the incentives frenzy.

In particular Nissan - on which all eyes are fixed as its ceo Carlos Ghosn, who also helms Renault of France, explores a three-way alliance with General Motors.

Nissan's sales in North America have recently lagged its two Rising Sun rivals, due primarily to a lack of new models. Down by 8% in the year to July 31, Nissan's performance contrasts ill alongside that of Toyota and Honda whose respective sales gains for that period were 10.1% and 6.9%.

According to auto pricing website, discounts and other incentives on Nissan models averaged $2,618 in July, versus a maximum of $1,000 offered by Toyota and under $900 by Honda. Spending by the three Detroit-based carmakers - GM, Ford and Chrysler - was appreciably higher.

Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff