updated 5/31/2006 8:42:55 PM ET 2006-06-01T00:42:55

One week after General Motors Corp. introduced a plan to cap gas prices for buyers in California and Florida, Ford Motor Co. is jumping into the gas rebate game with an offer of free gas for the rest of the year.

Ford said nearly all of its 2006 vehicles — including the popular Ford Fusion sedan, F-150 pickup and Mustang V-6 coupe — will be eligible for zero-percent financing and a prepaid debit card that can be used to purchase up to $1,000 worth of gas, or $1,100 for some trucks and sport utility vehicles. The vehicles must be purchased between June 1 and July 31.

Additional cash will be available on some slower-selling models.

The Ford Expedition sport utility vehicle will come with a $4,000 rebate, while the Ford Explorer will come with $1,500 cash back. Expedition sales fell 24 percent in the first four months of this year compared with the same period in 2005, while Explorer sales were down 30 percent.

Ford also is offering $2,500 cash back on the F-150, one of the country’s best-selling vehicles. The offer could be a move to fend off General Motors Corp., which is introducing a new lineup of full-size pickups this fall.

Ford said the actual amount buyers will receive on the gas card will be calculated based on each vehicle’s fuel economy rating, assuming 1,000 miles of driving per month and a gas price of $2.91 per gallon.

GM and Ford have generally tried to cut back on incentive spending this year after disappointing financial results in North America. But incentive levels were expected to rise, since most automakers offer summer sales to clear out old models before new model-year vehicles arrive in the fall.

Last week, GM said it will cap gas prices at $1.99 per gallon for one year for customers in California and Florida who buy certain vehicles by July 5. That offer is good for some 2006- and 2007-model cars and sport utility vehicles.

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