Detroit’s have increased US sales incentives, fuelling a long-running price war in the early days of the motor industry’s traditionally strong spring selling season.

General Motors said its new offers included an extra $US1,000 cash-back and interest-free financing on loans for up to five years on most of its pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles, according to Reuters which noted that the extra $1,000 “bonus” cash is in addition to cash rebates of up to $3,500 on many models and that the new incentives are available on most 2003 and 2004 model year vehicles though consumers must take delivery by June 1.

Ford reportedly said it was adding $500 to the cash-back offer on some versions of its popular F-150 pickup truck, bringing the total rebate on some models to $1,500, and also added $500 to the rebates on the 2004 Focus and Escape, raising the cash-back offers on those vehicles to $2,500. Ford, which has seen a slow start to sales of its all-new Freestar minivan, raised the customer cash available on that vehicle to $4,000, Reuters said.

Chrysler reportedly improved cash-back deals on its Dodge Durango SUV and said it was offering a $1,000 rebate on its new 2005 minivans, which just went on sale.

Reuters noted that incentives have been largely unchanged since late last year, amid forecasts for strong 2004 sales, but added that Paul Ballew, GM’s chief of market and industry analysis, said in a conference call with Wall Street analysts and reporters on Thursday that he sees an increase in incentives in the next few months.