Ford Motor Co. is offering pickup owners a $500 discount coupon to buy a 1999 Ford F-150 or F-250 or a 2000 F-150. Ford says the coupon mailing is a test to reach more consumers directly.
Inventories of some full-sized pickups are high by recent standards, but so far it doesn't appear that a price war is imminent.
Ford has mailed the coupons to 900,000 pickup owners. About half own Ford full-sized pickups purchased since 1993, said Carolyn Brown, Ford spokeswoman. The rest own competitive models bought from 1992-97, she said. Only F-series trucks less than 8,500 pounds qualify for the rebate.
From January until Oct. 1, 1999 F series under 8,500 pounds were sold without cash rebates, Brown said. However, during that period, discounted financing was offered nationally. Except for the coupon, there are no national rebates or financing discounts on the F series in Ford's current round of incentives, she said. The program began in October and expires Jan. 15.
NO FIRE SALE
'This isn't a fire sale offering. Five hundred dollars off is not a lot of money,' Brown said. 'We do these things on occasion to see what kind of response we get. Generally, on coupons the take rate is 1 percent.'
Ford's supply of F-series models held steady at 60 days from Oct. 1 to Nov. 1. However, inventories rose for the Chevrolet Silverado, the Dodge Ram and the GMC Sierra.
Asked if General Motors would respond to Ford's coupons, GM spokeswoman Gwen Knapp gave a neutral answer: 'We're always looking at the market.'
She acknowledged the full-sized truck market is becoming more competitive. But she added: 'We absolutely do not see an incentive war,'
DaimlerChrysler has no customer rebate on its 2000 Dodge Ram pickups. The company said it has no plans to add any incentives. A $1,000 cash rebate is offered on the 1999 Ram regular cab, club cab and quad cab pickups that expires Dec. 13.
DaimlerChrysler is getting more aggressive, however, with its minivans. The automaker increased the rebate to $1,250 on all 2000 minivans. The offer expires Jan. 3. The short-wheelbase models had carried a $750 rebate, and the long-wheelbase, $1,000.
From Oct. 1 to Nov. 1, Silverado inventory rose to a 70-day supply from 55 days; Ram inventory climbed to 73 days from 67 days; and Sierra stock rose to 86 days from 74 days. Comparable figures are not available for the Toyota Tundra. Toyota's truck inventory stood at a 32-day supply Nov. 1, up from 29 days Oct. 1. The inventory includes Tundra, Tacoma and Sienna models.
Ralph Kisiel contributed to this report