Ford Motor Co. said on Thursday it was matching new-vehicle loan deals from General Motors Corp. aimed at bolstering sales amid signs of a weakening economy in the wake of the Sept. 11 deadly air attacks, Reuters reported. Ford’s program, called “Ford Drives America,” offers loan deals ranging from zero interest on loans for 2001-model cars to 4.9 percent for five-year loans on 2002-model year trucks. Those loan rates apply only to loans through Ford’s financing arm, and in place of regular rebates or other loan deals. They match exactly the program GM announced Wednesday, Sept. 19, which it called “Keep America Rolling.” The average new vehicle loan has a finance rate of about 6 percent, with a $20,000 principal and a length of just less than five years, according to industry trade groups. A zero-interest loan with those terms would save the buyer $53 per month in interest, or about $2,854 for the life of the loan. Ford was already offering $2,700 in cash rebates and incentives on every vehicle as of August, according to industry analysts, while GM was offering about $400 less than Ford. Both have been forced to boost incentives throughout the year as sales slowed and competition from foreign automakers increased. Dieter Zetsche, president of the Chrysler side of DaimlerChrysler AG said on Wednesday, Sept. 19, that he was waiting for more evidence of customer demand before making any changes to incentives or production. A Chrysler spokesman confirmed no changes had been made as of the Thursday, Sept. 20.

Originally posted on Fleet Financials