General Motors, after a month of sliding sales and mounting inventory, has increased incentives on large 2004 sport-utility vehicles by as much as $1,000, dealers have told the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

For example, the WSJ said in a report carried by Dow Jones, GM is now offering $US3,500 customer rebates on Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban and GMC Yukon SUVs, or 0% financing for 48-month loans and 1.9% for 60 months - in October, GM was offering $2,500 rebates and only offered 0% financing for 36-month loans.

Dealers told the WSJ that GM also extended a lease pull-ahead programme targeting existing GM customers who have leases set to expire between December 1 and May 1.

A more complete picture of GM's strategy is hard to know, the Wall Street Journal said, noting that dealers who reported the changes were located in western and southern states while other dealers, in different parts of the country didn't report major changes. GM spokeswoman Deborah Silverman told the paper the company's incentive levels remain "very comparable" to last month's offers.

Nationally, she told the WSJ, GM is offering $2,500 rebates on 2004 versions of those SUVs in lieu of special financing deals, and she added that GM's regional sales officials often tweak incentive programmes on their own.

The Wall Street Journal said GM's sales fell 7% in October, contributing to a growing level of inventory - at the end of October, GM had 89 days' supply of inventory, compared with 71 days' supply at the same point last year, according to Autodata.

One dealer told the WSJ GM regional sales officers were "howling" about October's poor showing, referring to the month as the worst of the year while Silverman said GM's sales suffered last month from a tough year-to-year comparison, when sales were strong.

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