Rebates, no-interest loans and other incentives for new-vehicle buyers fell in October from September's record levels as US car makers attempted to hold prices on 2004 models, according to an industry research group cited by Reuters.

Autodata said the industry's average incentive was $2US,715 per vehicle in October, about $202 less than September, when Detroit's Big Three car makers were still carrying many 2003 models on dealer's lots, the report said.

Of the six largest car makers, General Motors offered the largest average deals at $3,980 per vehicle though Chrysler was close behind at $3,768 and was the only large car maker to raise incentives from September - a contributor to its 11% increase in sales from October 2002, Reuters said.

According to the report, Ford offered $3,054 per vehicle, a 15% drop from September, likely on the strength of its new F-150 pickup.

Most industry analysts believe the dip in incentives is temporary, as it was last year before the Big Three hiked deals again in a year-end sales push, Reuters said.

"We think Big 3 incentives are on track to ... begin rising again in November, with further escalation in December, which should give a lift to the industry selling rate in the months ahead," Credit Suisse First Boston analyst Chris Ceraso said in a research note cited by Reuters.

Reuters said that Asian car makers not only spent far less but managed to reduce their incentives by 14% from September - Honda spent $531 per vehicle, Toyota $808 per sale and Nissan offered $1,502.

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