As expected, Ford has replaced its US employee pricing discount promotion with traditional cash rebates and cheap loans after the discounts lost appeal to buyers, the Associated Press (AP) said.

The report noted that the big employee discounts programme, called the Ford Family Plan, helped the automaker post two months of higher sales, but lost appeal in September.

Ford reportedly said it is now offering traditional cash rebates varying from $US500 (popular sedans) to $3,000 (huge Expedition SUV now on run-out) on some 2006 model-year vehicles.

AP also noted that sales of large petrol-guzzling Ford SUVs declined significantly last month as petrol prices soared well over $3 a gallon in many parts of the country. Sales of the large Expedition SUV fell 60%, while sales of the mid-sized Explorer were off 58% and F-Series pickup truck volume declined 30%.

For 2005 model-year vehicles, the Detroit-based automaker is offering 0% financing for up to 60 months, the Associated Press said.

"The Family Plan was our most successful model year-end sales event ever and we expect that 0% financing will help us sell-out our few remaining 2005 models several weeks earlier than normal," Ford spokesman Jim Cain said in a statement cited by the news agency.

The incentives will be offered until January 3, the Associated Press added.