General Motors on Monday launched a fresh offensive in the US auto incentives war with what it claims is “the most sweeping offer in its history.”

In a bid to combat slow sales, it has unveiled 0% financing for up to five years on nearly all its models – the only exception being the big-selling Hummer.

America’s big auto firms have been relying on such tactics since the wave of special offers they introduced to kick-start sales after the September 11 attacks. With each party desperate to maintain share, nobody has yet risked dropping the strategy, which has maintained sales but at a hefty price.

John Smith, GM’s head of North American sales, revealed the auto giant was responding to weak consumer sentiment. “While industry sales have held up relatively well, we have seen some weakening of consumer confidence,” he declared. “We believe it's the right time to lead the industry.”

The new incentive, which will run until the end of April, will be backed by TV, print and online ads. It is expected to draw a swift response from GM’s competitors.

Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff