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From Automotive News:

Chrysler starts summer with employee-discount program

DETROIT -- The Chrysler group has fired the first shot of the summer selling season with an employee-discount program for consumers beginning July 1.

The company's Employee Pricing Plus discount plan was announced to dealers in sales meetings Wednesday, say dealer and industry sources.

The program, essentially the same as the one the automaker ran last summer, allows all customers to buy Chrysler group vehicles at the same heavily discounted prices available to Chrysler group employees.

Last summer, General Motors started the employee-pricing war in June, and Ford and the Chrysler group followed in July. The bloody discounting war between the Detroit 3 carried on through September.

Last week, Chrysler group CEO Tom LaSorda said the company needed to do something to make room for new vehicles arriving in dealerships this fall. Chrysler dealers have complained they are carrying excessive inventories, particularly of big trucks and SUVs.

Jonathan Steinmetz, an analyst for Morgan Stanley, predicted last week that the Chrysler group would be the first to launch such a program this summer. In a research note to investors, Steinmetz wrote that a move by Chrysler could test GM’s pricing discipline.

"Such a move suggests other OEMs continue to view GM's new-found price discipline as a chance to grab market share rather than lift prices," he wrote.

A Chrysler spokesman declined to confirm or deny the plan.
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