Suffering from sluggish sales, General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. announced fresh incentives yesterday to lure customers into the showroom.
GM said it will offer the same discount it gives to its employees to anyone who buys a new GM car or truck in the next month. The program includes all GM vehicles except the Chevrolet Corvette and GMC medium-duty trucks, the world's largest automaker said. The offer runs June 1 to July 5.
GM said the new price will be prominently displayed on vehicles at dealerships. Consumers can get additional incentives on top of the lower prices, said Paul Ballew, GM's executive director of global market and industry analysis.
Ballew said in some cases, consumers could get up to $7,000 or $8,000 off the standard retail price of the vehicle.
"Our challenge in the marketplace is breaking through with consumers," Ballew said. "It's vital for GM to break through the clutter. Our products are better than they are perceived."
Despite high marks in recent quality surveys, GM has had sluggish sales so far this year. The company, which posted a $1.1 billion loss in the first quarter, reported yesterday that May sales fell 5.4 percent from the year-ago period, adjusted for two fewer selling days this May, and that business so far this year is off 6.7 percent from 2004.
Ford, the second-largest U.S. automaker, raised rebates by as much as $1,000 on four slow-selling models, including the Explorer and Expedition sport-utility vehicles.
The increase was $1,000, to a total of $5,000, on the Expedition large SUV, spokesman David Reuter said. Rebates were raised $500 on the four-door Explorer, the Focus small car and Ranger small pickup. The offers now total $3,500 on the Explorer, $2,500 on the Focus and $2,000 on the Ranger.
The automaker also is offering an option of a 60-month, no-interest loan and a $1,000 rebate on the Explorer and Expedition, Reuter said. The Dearborn, Mich.-based company's current incentives expire July 5, he said.
Ford's U.S. vehicle sales fell 5.6 percent in this year's first five months as the industrywide total declined 1 percent. Sales fell 25 percent for the Explorer and 22 percent for the Expedition. Sales of such larger SUVs have been hurt by gasoline prices and by new "crossover" vehicles that blur the difference between cars and trucks.
Separately, GM and Ford both said they will cut third-quarter North American production. GM said it expects to build 1.1 million vehicles in the quarter, down 9 percent from a year earlier, and Ford said it will build 730,000, a 2.3 percent reduction.
DaimlerChrysler AG said it doesn't expect incentive changes.