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DETROIT – Industry analysts predicted U.S. auto sales would end 2003 with a strong finish, boosted in part by automakers’ aggressive year-end incentive push. DaimlerChrysler AG’s Chrysler company was the most aggressive of the Detroit Big Three, offering six-year, interest-free loans and advertising cash rebates of up to $6,000 on some older models. Some of the manufacturers also offered dealer-only incentives as a way to give dealerships an extra ounce of motivation to hit their goals by the end of 2003. GM, for example, gave an extra $1,000 a vehicle to dealers who surpassed their November sales levels in December. The Big Three’s end-of-year incentive is typical of what they’ve offered on deals in the final weeks of December to boost their sales totals. In December, analysts predicted 2003 would finish up with about 17 million in auto sales.

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