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Old 06-29-2006, 05:46   #1 (permalink)
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US:Talk of employee discounts hurts June sales, Ford exec says

Talk of employee discounts hurts June sales, Ford exec says

Amy Wilson
Automotive News

DETROIT -- June auto sales have dropped off significantly since buzz began about a return to employee discounts, Ford Motor Co.'s U.S. sales chief said.

The talk about a coming employee discount plan from the Chrysler group has slowed the marketplace, said Cisco Codina, Ford's group vice president of North America marketing, sales and service. It interrupted a sales pace that had been "pretty good" for the first half of June.

"So I don't know where we're going to end up in June right now," Codina said in an interview Wednesday, June 28. "It's unbelievable that someone would begin talking about next month's incentives in the middle of the month. Go figure."

The Chrysler group has told some dealers that it will launch employee discounts in July. The resulting news probably has caused some buyers to sit and wait for the July programs, Codina said.

Ford intends to stick with its "Drive on Us" program, Codina said. That program offers 0-percent financing for 36 to 72 months, plus a debit card worth either $1,000 or $1,100 that can be used to defray fuel costs. Cash rebates are also available on Ford models.

"We may make a tweak here and there," Codina said, "but we have our campaign. We're going to hit it hard again in July."

He did not rule out a return to employee discounts for Ford, but made it clear that Ford would have to be forced into it by competitive pressures.

"I don't think employee discounts are good," Codina said. "Last time we were dragged into it. Right now, at this point in time, we have no intention of doing employee pricing. It’s very disruptive."
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