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Automakers Open New Season With Incentives

April 7, 2003

It's the spring selling season for an auto industry struggling to get Americans to stop watching war coverage long enough to shop for a new vehicle, according to the Chicago Tribune.

After backing off in March, General Motors went back on the offensive in April, offering zero percent financing for 60 months or rebates up to $3,000 on all its brands except Hummer, its most generous incentive program since fall, the Tribune reported. Ford and Chrysler quickly matched GM on several models and added their own wrinkles.

Paul Taylor, chief economist of the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), says major snowstorms in February and the start of the war in Iraq last month sidetracked many car shoppers. Taylor expects sales to pick up in April and May, traditionally strong months for new-vehicle sales. "We're going to find out if they've lost their zip," Taylor said of the latest incentives. "Even if they're not as potent as they once were, combined with the normal seasonal pattern in which people get out to look at cars, we should see some pretty strong sales."

The industry sold nearly 3.8 million cars and light trucks in the first quarter, down 4.4 percent from last year, according to the Tribune.

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