DETROIT -- DaimlerChrysler CEO Dieter Zetsche will launch the summer selling season July 1 with TV commercials touting the Chrysler group's employee prices for everyone.
The ads will emphasize the German-American heritage of the company, said a Chrysler dealer who has seen elements of the campaign.
The program, called Employee Pricing Plus, includes a 30-day money-back guarantee for customers unhappy with their vehicles.
Meanwhile, General Motors is expected to roll out an incentive plan for dealers in a satellite conference Monday, June 26. The plan, which gives customers 0 percent financing for 60 months, would end July 5.
It's too early to say whether an all-out summer price war will break out as a result of the Chrysler and GM moves. The companies are keeping plans for July and August close to their vests.
Ford spokesman Jim Cain says Ford plans to stick with its Drive on Us summer incentive package, which offers 0 percent financing for 36 to 72 months, plus a debit card worth either $1,000 or $1,100, depending on the model, that can be used to defray fuel costs. Cash rebates also are available on Ford models.
"Everybody's business is different," Cain said. "We know what it takes to be competitive, and the program we have today is working very well."
The GM program is geared to help dealers finish June strong, a GM dealer said. Dealers haven't heard what will come after July 5, the dealer said.
On Thursday, June 22, Chrysler group CEO Tom LaSorda said reports of the return of employee prices for everyone were "speculative." He said dealers had been given a number of possible incentive package options and had been asked for feedback.
But a second Chrysler dealer says Chrysler already has supplied dealers with in-store signs for Employee Pricing Plus. The program includes a 30-day money-back guarantee if customers are not satisfied with their vehicles, the dealer said.
Chrysler spokesman Kevin McCormick said current incentives that had been set to end July 5 now will expire June 30. "For the holiday weekend we want to make sure our next offering of incentives for July is going to drive showroom traffic and to give dealers time to prepare," he said.
A Ford source said that if Chrysler is the only automaker that offers employee discounts, Ford probably can resist matching the program. But, the insider said, if GM follows Chrysler with its own employee discount program, Ford probably would have little choice but to join the frenzy.
Amy Wilson contributed to this report
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