June 29, 2005

Chrysler may match GM discount program

DETROIT (Reuters) - Chrysler may match General MotorsCorp.'s offer giving all U.S. car buyers the same discounts itsemployees get if GM extends the promotion beyond next week, aDetroit newspaper said on Wednesday.

Citing sources familiar with the matter, the Detroit Newssaid the U.S. arm of DaimlerChrysler had told its nationaldealer council on Tuesday it could make a similar offer asearly as next Monday if GM extends its promotion through July.

GM, the world's largest automaker, has seen customertraffic soar since it announced the offer on June 1. The offeris due to end on July 5 but GM's North American marketing chiefhas been quoted as saying it might be prolonged.

Chrysler spokesman Jason Vines confirmed that the GMconsumer incentives program was discussed with the dealercouncil, but he said the automaker would not necessarily followin GM's footsteps.

"We're looking at every option," Vines told Reuters.

"We could announce a new (incentives) campaign as early asFriday or as late as Monday or Tuesday," he added. "What wedon't want to do is match the firesale mentality."

DaimlerChrysler shares were up 20 cents, or 0.49 percent,at $40.92 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

The success of the GM offer -- expected to be confirmed byJune U.S. sales numbers on Friday -- is forcing rivals to takea look at how to defend share in the world's biggest and mostfiercely competitive car market.

Dan Bedore, a spokesman at GM's crosstown rival Ford MotorCo. said "that's not in the works right now" when asked if theNo. 2 U.S. automaker was considering matching the employeediscount program.

"We are going to watch the market," he said.

(Additional reporting by Michael Shields, Frankfurt)