General Motors launched a new consumer incentives programme on Wednesday, carrying Detroit’s price war into a third straight year in a protracted bid to increase sales, according to the Reuters news agency.

Reuters said the new programme, which runs until September 30, maintains the hefty cash rebates and interest-free financing deals that GM has used all summer to clear out its inventory of 2003 models and also spreads incentives across a broader array of 2004 model year vehicles, the growing focus of attention on showroom floors as the industry heads into the autumn selling season.

According to the report, most 2004 models get some form of either cut-rate financing or rebates ranging from $US1,000 to $3,000 under the new programme. The huge Hummer sport utility vehicles are excluded from the discounts, although GM last month offered its dealers $2,000 on every Hummer H2 to help boost sales and cut inventories, Reuters noted, adding that the biggest rebate offered is $4,500 on the 2003 Chevrolet Avalanche pickup truck.

Reuters said that, despite its incentives, GM’s sales so far in 2003, excluding its Saab brand and some heavy trucks, were down 4.8% at the end of July compared with the same period a year earlier.