updated 9/23/2004 10:51:01 AM ET 2004-09-23T14:51:01

Ford Motor Co. is following General motors Corp.'s lead and offering zero-interest, six-year loans to buyers of remaining 2004-model vehicles.

The Ford incentives begin Sunday, end Sept. 30 and exclude the Thunderbird, the Dearborn-based company said Wednesday.

"It's mainly a program that allows us to remain competitive in the marketplace," Ford spokesman David Reuter said.

GM recently told its dealers that it would offer the no-interest, six-year loans for three days from Tuesday through Sept. 30 to help unload a backlog of inventory. It excludes the Cadillac and Hummer brands.

DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler now offers zero-interest financing for up to five years, and it plans an advertising campaign at month's end to publicize that and other incentives, said spokesman Kevin McCormick.

GM and Ford both reported disappointing U.S. sales for August, prompting them to cut planned vehicle production in the fourth quarter. Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co., the top two Japanese automakers, also reported sluggish sales.

Overall, vehicle sales fell 12.4 percent from August 2003.

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