Pressure on Ford?
GM and Ford now must decide how they'll respond. Analysts say Ford Motor Co. is more likely than GM to follow Chrysler's lead.
"I think GM's response will continue to be more tactical than pervasive," said Jonathan Steinmetz, analyst for Morgan Stanley in New York.
Ford might be a different story.
"GM has more momentum due to new products coming in the marketplace," said Jesse Toprak, an Edmunds.com analyst. "Ford does not have as much momentum in the marketplace because of the lack of new products."
Maureen Joyce, the dealer at Joyce Ford Inc. in Chicago, has no desire to see Ford respond. She says selling cars is the responsibility of dealers, not the factory. "Leave my business alone," she says. "To be following everybody else is useless."
Ford intends to stick with its "Drive on Us" program, said Cisco Codina, Ford's group vice president of North America marketing, sales and service. That program offers 0 percent financing for 36 to 72 months, plus a debit card worth either $1,000 or $1,100 that can be used to defray fuel costs. Cash rebates are also available on Ford models.
"We may make a tweak here and there," Codina said, "but we have our campaign. We're going to hit it hard again in July."
Codina did not rule out a return to employee discounts, but made it clear that Ford would have to be forced into it by competitive pressure.
"I don't think employee discounts are good," Codina said. "Last time we were dragged into it. Right now, at this point in time, we have no intention of doing employee pricing."
Mike Jackson, GM's advertising chief, promised recently that GM will launch "an aggressive sell-down " in the near future -- but no fire sale.
John Schenden, owner of Pro Chrysler-Jeep in Denver, praised Chrysler's efforts to include dealers in the program from the start.
The 30-day money-back guarantee comes with 18 pages of restrictions. Chrysler will only take back vehicles financed by DaimlerChrysler Financial. It will also include a stocking charge and a 50-cent-per mile fee.
Gordon Stewart, owner of Gordon Chevrolet in Garden City, Mich., said he was a fan of employee pricing, even though he feels he's in the minority. GM had a 72-hour, 0 percent for 72 months program running through the holiday weekend.
"I love the zero for 72 because we sold 73 cars yesterday," he said Friday. "That would be a great week normally."
Amy Wilson and Greg Migliore contributed to this report
You may e-mail Bradford Wernle at [email protected]