DETROIT - To understand why General Motors started its sweeping "Zero to Sixty" incentive program, look no further than the automaker's light-truck sales.
In the first quarter of this year, GM light-truck sales dropped 14.8 percent. GM sold nearly 100,000 fewer of its main profit-making vehicles.
The drop-off was especially tough in full-sized trucks. The Chevrolet Silverado pickup was off by 28,839 units. Chevrolet Tahoe sales fell by 14,200.
For contrast, GM's car lineup only sagged 3.3 percent in the first quarter.
GM executives say the incentive program, which offers 0 percent financing for 60-month loans, is reviving light-truck sales. GM believes it is emerging from the slump it says resulted mainly from its year-end incentives splurge.
Paul Ballew, GM's executive director of market and industry analysis, says light-truck sales gained strength in early April. GM's incentives increase truck sales disproportionately because trucks are the strongest part of its vehicle lineup, he says. "It's fair to say that we get a little bit more bite on the truck side than the car side."
Also, the offer, which lasts through April 30, offers interest-free five-year loans on full-sized trucks for the first time, he says.