General Motors back-pedalled on consumer incentives in the third quarter, as an improving US economy allowed for less generous discounts on new cars and trucks, Reuters reported.

The drop in cash rebates and other deals from second-quarter levels was thought to be the first quarterly drop at GM since it introduced interest-free loans to spur sales immediately after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, the news agency said, adding that GM has led Detroit's brutal price war ever since.

The incentives are "modestly lower but frankly I'll take it after a few years of going up," GM chief financial officer John Devine reportedly told industry analysts and reporters in a conference call held to discuss the company's third quarter results released this week.

Reuters said Devine gave no specifics on how much discounts had declined in the April-June period but he said further cutbacks in incentives, which have eroded profits across the industry, could be expected.

"As the economy recovers, and we're seeing that, I think it is reasonable to expect some tail-off or some stabilisation, on the incentive wars," Devine said, according to Reuters.