updated 9/1/2006 11:41:40 AM ET 2006-09-01T15:41:40

DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group is bringing back zero percent financing for 72 months on most 2006 models in an effort to clear lots for 2007 cars and trucks.

The new round of no-interest financing starts Friday and will last until Oct. 2. It applies to all models except the LX platform including the Chrysler 300 and the Dodge Charger and Magnum, said spokesman Kevin McCormick.

The incentive announcement comes a day after Chrysler temporarily pulled its "Ask Dr. Z" commercials from the airwaves to focus advertising on incentives and new models.

The television and radio ads, featuring the gray mustache and German accent of DaimlerChrysler Chairman Dieter Zetsche, started July 1, but they stopped running on Thursday, the company said.

The broadcast campaign featuring Zetsche will be revived at a yet-to-be-determined date, said Chrysler spokeswoman Carrie McElwee. It will remain on the Internet and perhaps at some special events, she said.

"We have a lot of equity built into the campaign," said McElwee, who added that Chrysler is reviewing plans for the next phase of broadcast ads featuring Zetsche. "It will definitely be back."

Chrysler has said it would introduce 10 new models this year. Upcoming launches include a redesigned Chrysler Sebring mid-sized car and a new Jeep Wrangler, McElwee said.

Since the Zetsche ads premiered July 1, the company's sales have dropped dramatically, down 37.4 percent in July.

But Chrysler officials have said it will take time for the ads to take hold and build the company's brand message that its cars and trucks are equipped with German engineering.

As a measure of the Zetsche ads' popularity, McElwee said Chrysler has answered nearly 6 million questions filed on the campaign's Web site.

"Consumers definitely have reached out to us," she said.

Some of the "Ask Dr. Z" ads make fun of Zetsche's thick, distinctive mustache. In one, a young girl asks if the mustache is real, and a group of schoolchildren stands stone-faced as Zetsche jokes about building lower-pollution clean vehicles while standing in front of a bunch of muddy Jeeps.

"It's a joke," he says to the kids.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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