GM offering zero-percent financing, cash bonus

DETROIT, Feb 13 (Reuters) - General Motors Corp GM.N will offer free financing and bonus cash for the next week to boost sales after a big decline in January, the automaker said on Tuesday.

The program offers $500 bonus cash in the Midwest and Northeast regions and zero-percent financing for up to five years on certain vehicles in the remaining U.S. regions.

The program includes most 2006 and 2007 models but excludes the Pontiac Solstice, Saturn Sky, Chevrolet Corvette Z06, Saturn Vue Hybrid, medium-duty trucks and the Cadillac, Hummer and Saab brands.

The program will run through Feb. 20.

GM, which lost $10.6 billion in 2005 and more than $3 billion in the first three quarters of 2006, has been trying to avoid big discount programs as it sticks to clearer pricing.

In the past, GM relied heavily on massive incentives to clear dealer lots. The new strategy is aimed at higher profitability at the risk of reduced sales.

GM’s sales fell about 20 percent in January, hurt by a reduction in rental fleet companies and weak consumer demand.

The automaker in January spent an average of $2,365 in incentives per vehicle, its lowest level since 2002. DaimlerChrysler AG's DCXGn.DE Chrysler Group spent an average of $3,853 while Ford Motor Co. F.N spent $3,502 per vehicle.

GM sales analyst Paul Ballew in January said the automaker will not return to its past habits of high incentivizing but “will do what it takes to stay competitive.”