DaimlerChrysler's Chrysler Group said Thursday it will give two years of free gas to customers who buy a 2005 or 2006 vehicle before Jan...

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DETROIT — DaimlerChrysler’s Chrysler Group said Thursday it will give two years of free gas to customers who buy a 2005 or 2006 vehicle before Jan. 3, following announcements of new discounts by rivals General Motors and Ford.


Chrysler will also kick in two years of free scheduled maintenance and increase the warranty on mechanical parts to five years or 60,000 miles. Chrysler now offers a three-year, 36,000-mile warranty.


The offer, the “Miles of Freedom” plan, begins Monday.


“The combination of free gasoline, free scheduled maintenance and a full warranty puts our customers’ mind at ease and allows them to fully experience the joy of driving one of our vehicles,” said Joe Eberhardt, Chrysler’s executive vice president of global sales, marketing and service.


The company said the free gas will come in the form of a $2,400 debit card that can be used for anything.


Alan Helfman, manager of River Oaks Chrysler Jeep in Houston, said the free maintenance is worth $200 to $300 and the extended warranty is worth $600 to $700. “It’s a great tool for marketing,” he said.


DaimlerChrysler shares rose $2.03 to $51.18 Thursday.


For the rest of November, buyers will be able to choose between the new incentive or existing cash-back plans that expire Nov. 30. Helfman said some people might choose the cash, though the new plan could be a better deal.


The 2006 Jeep Commander, which starts at $27,290, has a $1,500 rebate, Helfman said. Under the new plan, that would double.


Chrysler is excluding some of its hottest-selling vehicles from the plan, including the Dodge Viper, Chrysler 300, Dodge Magnum, Dodge Charger, Dodge Sprinter and SRT8.


It is the latest of the Big Three with new incentives to boost anemic sales. After a summer of heavily promoted employee-pricing discounts, the Big Three’s sales fell a combined 17.6 percent in October, according to Autodata.


Chrysler fared better than GM and Ford, with flat sales compared with October 2004.


Automakers typically offer discounts over the holidays, but GM jump-started those promotions earlier than usual when it announced its “Red Tag” discount this week. GM’s plan allows buyers to pay a fixed maximum price advertised on red tags at dealerships.


Ford’s rebate offer has a similar no-haggle aspect. Under its “Keep It Simple Plan,” customers are given one consistent maximum price that will be printed on vehicle window stickers.