DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. and the Chrysler Group matched General Motors' generous incentive offer of five-year, 0 percent loans on some of their models.
Starting April 2, Ford is offering 0 percent loans for 60 months on the: Taurus, Windstar, Crown Victoria, Explorer and Explorer Sport, Expedition, Excursion, Econoline, Ranger and F-150 light-duty pickup.
Ford also is offering $5-a-day leases on its Mustang Coupe and Ranger Edge 4x2 pickup. This 48-month lease program requires a 10 percent down payment. To maintain the $5-a-day price, customers must limit their mileage to 12,000 miles annually.
These incentives will be available through May 5.
Chrysler's 0 percent loans for 60 months are available for the Chrysler Sebring, Dodge Stratus and Chrysler PT Cruiser, which previously had 36-month, 0 percent financing deals.
Chrysler also says its cash rebates on the Sebring and Stratus increase to $3,000 from $2,500. Ram Pickup 1500 cash rebates go to $2,500 from $2,000. Jeep Grand Cherokee rebates rise to $3,000 from $2,500.
Chrysler also is offering to match a customer's $750 down payment in addition to other incentives for all minivans and Grand Cherokees.
These new incentives are available through April.
All but Hummer for GM
GM's offers are broader than the deals launched after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. U.S. auto sales this spring could fall below expectations because of the war in Iraq and a weak domestic economy.
But GM says consumer confidence, which had hit decade lows before the Iraq war, seems to be rebounding a bit.
GM's new deals include all its models except the low-volume Hummer SUVs. Instead of the loan offers, GM is offering a $3,000 rebate on most models, with four models getting a $2,000 rebate.
GM has led
GM has led the industry in incentives for the past year and spent an average of $3,085 per vehicle in February. Despite the offers, its inventories of unsold vehicles grew to an 88-day supply, which is about 20 percent above normal.
CNW Marketing Research analyst Art Spinella says the new interest-free loans could cost GM an average of about $4,200 per vehicle for five years. But he says his recent surveys have shown that consumers might be receptive to such offers.
GM's launch of 0 percent loans after the 2001 attacks was followed in varying degrees by most competitors, pushing U.S. auto sales to their second-highest monthly rate. Despite the programs' cost, and their toll on GM vehicle prices, the automaker posted higher profits last year through cost-cutting.
Ford, the only member of Detroit's Big 3 who didn't make money selling cars in 2002, has been able to hold its prices more than GM or Chrysler.
Reuters contributed to this report.