Two U.S. car companies are offering new incentives to lure car buyers, including an offer to take over payments if a buyer loses a job.
Tuesday, Ford executives said their company would take over payments of up to $700 for as long as a year for buyers hit by layoffs. General Motors offered a similar, though less generous, plan.
Most U.S. car buyers take out loans to purchase a vehicle, and pay back the money in monthly installments for three years or longer.
That means people worried about losing their jobs are putting off car purchases, which hurts car sales.
The major U.S. car companies are scheduled to announce their latest sales figures on Wednesday, and experts interviewed by news organizations expect another sharp drop in sales.
On Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama said General Motors and Chrysler, which have received billions of dollars in emergency loans, have not made enough changes to justify continued government assistance.
He rejected the restructuring plan offered by General Motors, gave the company 60 days to come up with a better plan, and forced the chief executive officer to resign.
The president gave Chrysler 30 days to work out a partnership deal with Fiat, or lose billions of dollars in financial assistance.
Tuesday, top Fiat executives were reported traveling to the midwestern U.S. city of Detroit for talks with Chrysler.
GM and Chrysler have already received more than $17 billion in government loans and have asked for another $21 billion. The third major American manufacturer, Ford, has not asked for government help.