The Chrysler group, seeking to halt a steady decline in its US market share, said on Tuesday that it will begin offering "aggressive" new consumer incentives on most of its 2004 model year vehicles, Reuters reported.

Chrysler spokesman David Elshoff reportedly said the incentives, including cash rebates and an array of interest-free financing plans, would be offered as part of a sales programme beginning on Wednesday and running until October 31.

"We're known typically as a follower," Elshoff told Reuters, referring to the dominant role played by General Motors in Detroit's price war since it began nearly two years ago.

"We're going to try to get out ahead of the curve and be aggressive with incentives," Elshoff told Reuters, noting that most of Chrysler's 2004 models already were in dealership showrooms.

Reuters said Chrysler's deals on its 2004 models are slightly less generous than what it offered on 2003 models but Elshoff said buyers could still get rebates of as much as $US3,000 on many new cars, trucks, minivans and SUVs and zero-percent financing for as long as five years.

Chrysler also is extending incentive offers on its 2003 models until October 31, Elshoff told Reuters.

The news agency noted that, despite offering cash rebates of as much as $4,500, Detroit's car makers have lost about 1.5% of US market share since the start of the year, mostly to Toyota and Honda.

Reuters said Chrysler lost $1.1 billion on the second quarter due to the high cost of incentives but, as a mass market car maker, with a vehicle range largely in need of fresher models to attract buyers, analysts say it has little choice but to try to match GM on discounts.

GM was to announce its new incentives programme by sometime no later than early Wednesday morning, Reuters noted.

Auto market intelligence
from just-auto

• Auto component fitment forecasts
• OEM & tier 1 profiles & factory finder
• Analysis of 30+ auto technologies & more