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Chrysler beefs up holiday incentives

Fri, 20 Nov 2009

Chrysler, seeking to boost sales after a dismal October, launched a major new incentive campaign Friday.

Chrysler timed the announcement so dealers could place ads in their local media outlets over the weekend and ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday period. The incentives take effect today and run through Jan. 4.

On many vehicles, Chrysler is increasing consumer cash by $1,000 to $1,500 over existing incentives.

For example, Chrysler is offering an extra $1,000 on the Chrysler 300 and 300C. That means a rear-wheel-drive 300 with a sticker price of $28,010, including shipping charges, will now sell for $25,010.

Other new incentives include offers of zero-percent financing for 60 months on the 300, 300C, Dodge Charger and Dodge Nitro; lease discounts of $500 to $1,000 on minivans; and cut-rate financing for 2008 and 2009 Dodge Vipers.

Grouped by brand

The incentives are grouped by brand, illustrating the growing independence in strategies for Chrysler's four vehicle lines. For instance, Dodge has a variety of consumer cash, financing and lease discount options. But Jeep offers only $1,000 consumer cash on all every vehicle but the Wrangler.

Earlier this month, Chrysler announced a five-year plan that predicts the automaker will break even on an operating basis in 2010 and on a net basis by 2011. The forecast is based in part on restoring market share lost in its slide toward a government-directed bankruptcy this spring.

Chrysler has relied on more aggressive incentives than rivals during the downturn. Consumer auto site has said the true cost of Chrysler incentives in October was about $3,219 per vehicle sold, compared with a $2,468 industry average.

About 88 percent of the automaker's current dealer inventory is 2010 models.

'Aggressive' ad campaign

Chrysler also will launch what it termed an “aggressive” ad campaign. “It will be aimed at driving a message on product, features and accolades into the marketplace and traffic into your showroom,” the company said in a message to dealers. “The residual effect of the campaign will also let the public know that Chrysler is alive and well.”

Bob Shuman, owner of Shuman Chrysler-Jeep in Walled Lake, Mich., praised the incentives.

“It's a very, very strong program,” Shuman said. “I think it's tremendous. We need it.”

Chrysler's sales declined 30 percent in October and 39 percent through the first 10 months of 2009 for the worst slide of any major automaker. this week predicted the company was in for a similar November, forecasting a 35 percent decline.

Chrysler also told dealers they will get a new “objective-based dealer cash program” of up to $1,500 per vehicle. As of this morning, Chrysler had not yet told dealers what their objectives would be.

By Bradford Wernle and Chrissie Thompson- Automotive News