With its zero-finance loan program ended, DaimlerChrysler AG’s Chrysler Group launched a new consumer incentive program on Jan. 9, 2002, that offers a mix of cash rebates and low-rate loans that vary depending on the vehicle and where the buyer lives. The move comes a week after General Motors launched a rebate campaign offering $2,002 cash back on most new models. Chrysler’s latest incentive package, which expires March 5, excludes all 2001 models, the Jeep Liberty sport/utility vehicle, and some minivans. Low-rate loans are available on PT Cruiser, which had been left out of previous incentive offerings. For most other Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep vehicles, consumers can get cash rebates between $500 and $2,000 or 3.9-percent to 5.9-percent financing on loans up to 60 months. The specific deal depends on the vehicle model and where the buyer lives. Chrysler was trying to wean consumers off profit-eating incentives by adding more standard features and lowering prices. When GM moved to jump-start lagging U.S. auto sales after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks with free financing, rivals Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler were forced to follow. Chrysler limited the deals to the shortest loans and excluded the company’s most popular products. The company later added a seven-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty that is available through March 31. Separately, in a meeting with Wall Street analysts on Jan. 9, Chrysler Group Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche said Chrysler’s 2001 losses will fall “at the better end” of the $2 billion to $2.5 billion range promised in a turnaround plan outlined early last year by the automaker. Zetsche said Chrysler cut its 2001 marketing costs, which include incentives, as a percentage of revenues. He said Chrysler, once the leader in incentives among Detroit’s automakers, now spends less than GM or Ford.

Originally posted on Fleet Financials