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Detroit Looks to Six-Year Loans to Boost Sales

November 1, 2002

As cash rebates and interest-free loans for new vehicles show signs of losing their allure to nervous American consumers, automakers are

starting to rely on another tool: six-year loans, according to a Reuters report.

In the latest escalation of Detroit's price battles, Ford Motor Co. in October quietly began offering 72-month loans with interest rates as low as 1.9 percent on most of its 2003 Ford brand lineup. Automakers usually discount loans only up to five years, and analysts said Ford's plan is the first time a U.S. automaker has offered such a deal.

Banks and other lenders have offered six-year auto loans for some time to borrowers with

poorer credit. General Motors and DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler arm have traditionally offered a few six-year loans, usually for vehicles such as commercial trucks and vans. The moves come as Detroit faces a slowdown in U.S. sales and diminishing returns from other incentives, according to Reuters.

Analysts said the plan shows automakers are willing to take risks with longer-term loans to buyers with lower credit ratings to keep sales up.

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