Ford Motor Co. is paying its dealers as much as $1,500 for every light-duty F-150 pickup truck they sell this month in a bid to bolster sales, the automaker said on Monday.
The dealer cash program is another sign of cut-throat competition in the U.S. auto industry, which posted lower-than-expected sales last month amid growing concerns about surging gasoline prices.
Ford spokesman Jim Cain said the dealer incentive was in addition to the $1,500 cash rebate customers are currently being offered for purchases of the all-new F-150, which went into production last September.
To qualify for the $1,500 for every F-150 they move off their lots, dealers will have to meet a monthly sales target set by Ford, Cain said.
He said the targets, which vary by region, were based on what Ford considers its "fair share" of a given market "and what each individual dealer needs to contribute to achieve that."
Ford officials have said they want to break a record set in 2001, when the company sold more than 911,500 of the F-Series trucks that generate a huge chunk of its automotive profits.
But that goal could prove elusive, especially if demand for full-size pickups weakens in the face of rising gas prices.
After seven consecutive months of double-digit increases in sales of the F-Series, the year-over-year gain in April slowed to just 2 percent.
Ford sold 279,187 F-Series trucks in the first four months of the year. That marked an 11 percent increase over the same period a year ago, but it also means Ford is on track to miss the 2001 goal unless it somehow adds to the sales momentum.