By Stephen Wisnefski Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES CHICAGO (Dow Jones)--Detroit's Big Three auto makers, eager to build sales momentum heading into the New Year and recover market share lost to foreign competitors, significantly increased their spending on incentives in November, according to data released late Wednesday by Edmunds.com. The consumer research firm said that incentives spending by General Motors Corp. (GM), Ford Motor Co. (F) and Chrysler Group averaged $3,398 per vehicle sold in November, a 22% increase over the amount spent in October and a record for the month of November. Chrysler, the U.S. unit of Germany's DaimlerChrysler AG (DCX) spent the most on incentives, at $3,922 per vehicle sold, an increase of $882 from the previous month. GM's incentives spending rose by $556 to $3,255 and Ford's was up $452 to $3,137. Domestic manufacturers launched their year-end promotions earlier than normal this year after posting dismal sales results in recent months. GM and Ford, the two largest U.S. auto makers, each posted declines of 26% in October, as sales of SUVs and trucks plunged owing to concerns about rising fuel prices. GM launched its "Red Tag" year-end promotion in mid-November, pressuring Ford and Chrysler to implement similar campaigns shortly thereafter. "The recent round of new promotions reflects the ineffectiveness of (the auto makers') attempts at 'value pricing,' and again demonstrates consumers' preference for discounts and promotions, especially for certain models," said Jane Liu, vice president of data analysis for Edmunds.com. U.S. auto makers have said they plan to transition to a so-called value-pricing model that simplifies the purchase process by lowering the sticker prices and doing away with the hefty rebates that consumers have come to expect the past four years. The discount schemes, such as the employee-discount-for-everyone programs implemented by the Big Three over the summer, give sales a boost but take a bite out of profits. The automotive operations of GM and Ford lost a combined $3 billion in North America in the third quarter owing to high cost structures and an inability to remain competitive with their Japanese peers. Thanks to an overall product offering that consumers find more appealing, companies such as Toyota Motor Corp. (7203.TO) and Honda Motor Co. (7267.TO) haven't had to resort to steep discounts. In November, according to Edmunds.com, incentives spending by Japanese manufacturers amounted to $1,030 per vehicle sold in the U.S., up $80 from the previous month. European manufacturers decreased incentives spending in November by $11 to $1,884 per vehicle sold. That's roughly in line with the $1,724 per vehicle spent by Korean auto makers during the month. Among vehicle segments, large SUVs continued to offer the highest average incentives, at $5,540 per vehicle sold, which is equivalent to 13.2% of the average manufacturers suggested retail price, Edmunds.com said. That compares with just 2.1% of MSRP for sports cars. The increased spending on incentives, coupled with a decline in gas prices, likely gave sales a boost in the second half of November. It won't be enough, however, to keep the overall sales figure for the month from declining compared to the year-earlier period, industry analysts say. U.S. sales of cars and light trucks fell 14% in October from the previous year, hitting a seven-year low, after posting a 7.6% decline in September. Auto manufacturers are scheduled to release U.S. sales figures for November on Thursday. GM and Ford, which are planning to significantly restructure their North American operations, are once again expected to lead the decline, posting sales drops of more than 10%, most analysts say. Toyota is expected to register a double-digit increase. Concern about the upcoming sales report helped push shares in GM and Ford down sharply on the New York Stock Exchange Wednesday. GM fell 4.8% to close regular trading hours at $21.90, while Ford tumbled 4.6% to $8.13. Through the end of October, GM had a 26.2% share of the U.S. market, down from 27.5% a year earlier, while Ford saw its share fall to 17.6% from 18.4%. Chrysler Group had a U.S. market share of 13.6% in the first ten months of 2005, up from 13% in the year-earlier period and giving it a lead of less than half a point over Toyota for third place in the U.S. market. -By Stephen Wisnefski, Dow Jones Newswires; (312) 750-4142; firstname.lastname@example.org (END) Dow Jones Newswires 12-01-05 0736ET Copyright (c) 2005 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.