Chrysler extends 0 percent financing

Bowing to competitive pressure, the Chrysler group extended 0 percent financing on 2002 vehicles until Nov. 19, but continued to exempt several popular and new models.

Exempt are the Chrysler PT Cruiser, Jeep Liberty, Chrysler Prowler, Dodge Viper and specially priced Internet minivan models.

But intense pressure on pickup sales forced the Chrysler group to offer 0 percent on its new Dodge Ram 1500.

Two weeks ago, General Motors extended its 0 percent financing from Oct. 31 until Nov. 18. Both GM's and the Chrysler group's program originally were scheduled to expire Oct. 31.

COO Wolfgang Bernhard said the new financing would not cut deeply into the financially ailing company's profitability. "We're not just adding it on top of everything we have. We are able to substitute incentive money we have out there with the 0 financing so it is not a big hit on our profit and loss (statement)."

Bernhard the Chrysler group will not match competitors' new expanded warranty offers. "We are very careful here. As the 0 financing starts another spiral of lower revenues, added warranty would add another spiral of increased cost."

"We're afraid - and everyone who watches that carefully should be afraid - that we are finding ourselves with the same sales, lower prices and higher costs. That's just bad for the industry and long-term viability."

Bernhard warned while the Chrysler group's sales are increasing due to the financing offers, "We are concerned that this frenzy we see out there is eating up some of our future."

Chrysler offers 0.0 to 2.9 percent loans on 2002 cars, and 0.0 to 4.9 percent on 2002 trucks.

A lender loses about $2,200 in interest on a three year 0 percent loan compared to a standard 6.5 percent loan.

You can reach Diana T. Kurylko at dkurylko@autonews.com

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