DaimlerChrysler to Hike Prices Slightly


DaimlerChrysler is expected to announce today its average U.S. prices for the 2000 model year will rise 0.4% on traditional Chrysler brands, the third year in a row the auto maker has kept price hikes under 1%. The typical price consumers will pay on Dodge, Jeep, Plymouth and Chrysler cars and trucks will average $108 above current levels, said the Germany-based auto maker, the first in the industry to unveil 2000 prices.

Despite the likelihood of an industrywide record sales year in calendar 1999 and forecasts for another strong year in 2000, analysts said strong competition and low inflation are forcing auto makers to keep price hikes to a minimum.

Ford Motor Co. is expected to announce its prices for the 2000 model year early next week. Last summer, the world's No. 2 auto maker trimmed prices by an average of 0.3%, its first overall cut in more than 30 years.

The domestic auto makers have different price strategies. Ford and the Chrysler brands typically post small or no price increases at the start of each model year, then raise prices later, according to a study done by the industry trade publication Automotive News.

GM traditionally racks up higher prices in the fall and adds lesser amounts through the course of the model year. GM didn't reveal last year's prices, but Automotive News calculated that the world's largest auto maker hiked prices 1.75%.

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