Auto Incentives Remain in 2003

With extended auto incentives in 2002, car buyers now expect zero percent financing and big rebates from dealers even though it's costing them profits. Automakers say they're having a hard time eliminating the incentives.

With a slow economy and slipping consumer confidence, carmakers will continue offering incentives like zero percent interest to entice customers into their showrooms.

No interest financing and big rebates were supposed to end when the new year began.

But while December vehicle sales were up, total sales were down by four percent for the entire year. So, the big three automakers will continue offering incentives at least until March.

Automotive analysts say they may need to continue offering the deals for the foreseeable future.

Marketing experts say benefits from incentives may be short term because they encourage buyers to purchase a car sooner than they otherwise would, depleting the pool of future customers.