The traditional Big 3 are teetering on the edge of yet another rebate war, but they appear reluctant to let things degenerate into another summer blowout sale.
Soft May sales, an iffy economy and high fuel prices may present Ford Motor Co., General Motors and the Chrysler group with an unpleasant choice: Cut production or boost incentives.
The Detroit 3 are trying a little bit of both. In May, sales of the domestic brands of GM dropped 12.4 percent; Ford's fell 2.2 percent; and the Chrysler group fell 10.9 percent compared with the May 2005.
The entire market was soft last month - with U.S. sales down 0.7 percent - but most of the import-badged brands fared well while Detroit suffered.
"The next 100 days are important," said Gary Dilts, the Chrysler group's senior vice president of sales. "There is pressure in the system with higher inventories. We'll be meeting with our guys (today, June 5) to talk about what to do."