updated 7/31/2006 8:13:42 PM ET 2006-08-01T00:13:42

DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group is extending its employee discount program on most 2006 models beyond Monday, when the promotion was to have expired.

The program likely will remain in effect until Sept. 5 — the day after Labor Day — a Chrysler official said Monday. The official requested anonymity because the extension will not be officially announced until the automaker releases July sales figures Tuesday.

Besides giving employee prices to everyone, Chrysler has been offering buyers the choice of zero percent financing for 36 months or rebates that vary by model. The extended program will include some minor changes to the amount of rebates offered with each model, the official said.

The existing program was launched July 1, two days before Chrysler reported a 15.5-percent slide in June sales from year-earlier levels. Chrysler blamed gas prices for the slide, though its biggest drop was in cars, which fell 32.7 percent, compared with a 10 percent drop in truck sales.

Ford Motor Co.'s "Drive on Us" promotion, which offered five-year interest-free financing on most models, along with a prepaid debit card that can be used to buy up to $1,000 worth of gas, was also scheduled to end Monday.

"We're continuing with our model-year clearance strategy, but we'll be approaching it with a different message in the marketplace," Ford spokesman Jim Cain said Monday. He would not provide details.

Alan Helfman, general manager of River Oaks Chrysler Jeep in Houston, said Monday that employee pricing has been successful, though not to the extent it was last summer, when Chrysler, Ford and General Motors Corp. were pushing similar deals simultaneously.

Last summer, GM started an incentive war by offering employee prices for all, boosting sales but reducing profits. GM is no longer offering employee pricing but has a variety of incentives in effect until Sept. 5. They include discounts, cash bonuses for dealers and customers, zero-percent financing for 36 months on some models and up to 60 months on others.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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