General Motors is using “monetary muscle” to rebuild its US vehicle market share by extending current offers that require no down payments and interest charges and defer monthly payments for three months on new cars and trucks, The Detroit News reported.

The Detroit News, citing an anonymous GM source, who said GM’s ‘Zero Zero Zero’ programme offering 0% interest rates, no down payment and no monthly payments for 90 days began on October 10 with an October 31 expiry date but would now be extended until January 2 on all remaining 2002 models and most 2003 models financed with 36- and 48-month loans.

The newspaper said the move suggests that the US car industry’s unprecedented incentive war will continue well into 2003 when most experts expect new car and truck demand to taper off.

The Detroit News said that US new car and truck sales are up 1% so far this year but sluggish economic growth, modest employment gains and slumping consumer confidence are forcing car makers to increase advertising spending and discounts to lure buyers.

The newspaper said GM would formally announce its latest incentive programme on Friday when GM and other car makers are scheduled to release October sales results.

The Detroit News said that industry-wide October sales are expected to fall sharply from record October 2001 levels, when a wave of unprecedented incentive deals following the September 11 terrorist attacks boosted demand.

Boosted by the generous discounts, GM’s US market share has increased 0.3% this year to 28.2% but is still short of a 2002 target of 29%, the Detroit News added.