DETROIT — Ford and Chevrolet — both looking to claw back market share they have relinquished this year — have touched off an earlier-than-usual round of late-summer incentives.
The two top-selling brands in the United States have launched Labor Day and summer promotions offering 0 percent financing for 72 months across wide swaths of their lineups. Chevy is sweetening the deal with 90 days of deferred payments on some of its most popular nameplates.
“We’re not going to wait until the end of the month,” Chevrolet Vice President Brian Sweeney wrote in a memo sent to dealers last week. “We need to get it going.”
Analysts say the Ford and Chevy promotions portend rising incentives in the second half of the year. Pressure is mounting on automakers to sustain sales momentum as the U.S. sales cycle enters a period of cooling consumer demand and rising inventory levels, Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas said in an Aug. 4 report.
“Despite ideal credit conditions and higher incentive spending, [automakers] are finding it increasingly difficult to find the incremental buyer,” Jonas said.
Ford’s promotion, which runs through Sept. 2, covers most 2014 car and crossover models, excluding the Mustang pony car, F-series pickups and vans, according to the company’s Web site.
Ford’s latest deals were launched July 29, a spokesman said.
Chevy’s latest offer appears to be a countermove to Ford’s Labor Day head start.
The Chevy Labor Day Sale, which began Wednesday, Aug. 13, and also runs through Sept. 2, offers 0-for-72 deals as well as 90 days of deferred payments on the 2014 Cruze, Malibu and Impala sedans; all Camaro models; the Traverse crossover; and all Silverado light-duty and heavy-duty pickups.
GM spokesman Jim Cain said GM rolled out the incentive program after “Ford started its Labor Day sale a little bit early.
“We needed to be in the market with a competitive program,” he said. “We think this will generate a lot of consumer interest and showroom traffic.”
Chevy’s market share through July fell to 12.5 percent, or 1.2 million vehicles sold, from 12.9 percent in the year-earlier period. No. 3 Toyota is nipping at the bow-tie brand’s heels at 12.3 percent through July, vs. 12.2 percent a year earlier. Ford’s share slipped to 14.8 percent, or 1.4 million vehicles sold, from 15.7 percent a year earlier.
Overall, Ford deliveries dropped 1 percent through July, and Chevrolet sales edged up 2 percent in an overall U.S. light-vehicle market that was up 5 percent.
Other brands also are offering summer-clearance deals. Toyota is advertising 0 percent financing for 60 months on the 2014 Avalon, Sienna, Prius, Venza and the midyear 2014 Camry.
Nissan’s Bottom Line model year-end event offers 0 percent financing for 2014 models for 72 months on the Maxima and Murano; for 60 months on the 370Z coupe, 370Z roadster and Pathfinder Hybrid; and for 36 months on the Altima coupe, Versa sedan, Quest, Murano CrossCabriolet and Juke.
Like Chevy, Dodge’s Summer Clearance Event defers payments for 90 days on 2014 and 2015 models through Sept. 2.
Dodge’s deferred payment offer originally expired Aug. 4 but was extended.