While preparing to send $US3,000 checks to nearly 60,000 hourly workers this week [as part of the new labour pact recently negotiated with the United Auto Workers union], Chrysler is hoping employees spend the money at the company store, the Detroit News reported.

From Monday to November 10, Chrysler is offering most of its labour force a special one-year lease for a $2,000 lump sum cash payment -- roughly the after-tax value of the bonuses, the paper said.

The deal applies to some 2004 versions of the Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Stratus sedans, Dodge Dakota pickup and Jeep Wrangler SUV, the Detroit News said, adding that UAW-represented employees are eligible, along with non-management white-collar workers.

The paper noted that, in one sly move, Chrysler is bidding to recapture some of the $180 million payout and boost flagging sales - its US sales fell 15% in September.