Chrysler hopes to boost its US market share by closely tracking its rivals' incentives and responding quickly, Jim Schroer, head of sales and marketing, told Reuters.

The news agency noted that Chrysler's US market share rose in February after its sales dropped just 4%, bettering an industry-wide fall of 7%.

"When we are competitive, which we were in February, we show a respectable market share performance," Schroer told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday at the Geneva motor show.

"In December and January, we weren't because both GM and Ford changed mid-month, and we followed slowly and we got hurt a little bit. So we have a new set of running rules where we can respond faster than we did in December and January," he said, according to Reuters.

The news agency said Chrysler executives have expressed reluctance to wade too deep into the US price war, contending that doing so would hurt the image of their brands. Instead, Chrysler has hoped its new seven-year powertrain warranty would lure some buyers who question Chrysler's quality.

"We want to be competitive, but we don't want to lead" in the incentive fray, Schroer told Reuters. "If too much of your marketing is just the deal, and you're not building the brands too, then your franchise is going to get more and more price sensitive."

According to Reuters, Schroer said that sales of its new Pacifica, a seven-passenger wagon, and heavy-duty pickups also would help boost its sales this year. "We're looking for our share to be up in '03 based on those," Schroer said.

Reuters said the Chrysler Group, which includes the Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge brands, ended 2002 with a US market share of 12.9%.

Schroer told Reuters he saw little let-up in US incentives. He expects Toyota to offer aggressive incentives in the market in March to boost its sales ahead of the end of its fiscal year, and to clear its growing inventory of unsold vehicles.

"There's going to be a Toyota-thon at the end of the month like we've never seen," Schroer said, according to Reuters.

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