Following in the footsteps of General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co., the Chrysler arm of DaimlerChrysler (DCX), said Wednesday that it too will now offer employee discounts to the general public in a move that is likely to affect all three automakers' earnings.

General Motors Corp. (GM) has been selling anybody a 2005 model car or truck at the same low prices GM employees pay since last month.

The world's largest automaker extended the employee discount program through Aug. 1 on Tuesday, prompting Ford (F) to say it was matching the consumer incentives program that delivered blockbuster sales for GM in June.

Chrysler said its program, which began Wednesday and lasts through Aug. 1, would shave thousands of dollars off the sticker prices of most 2005 models.

Dubbed "Employee Pricing Plus," the discount program does not include the hot-selling Chrysler 300 sedan, the Dodge Magnum wagon or the all-new Dodge Charger, a Chrysler spokesman said.

He said the Dodge Viper sports car and vehicles from Chrysler's SRT performance line were also excluded from the discount program.

GM's "Employee Discount for Everyone" program was launched last month and the company extended it through Aug. 1 earlier Tuesday. It drove GM's sales up 41 percent in June, which was the company's best sales month in 19 years.

Ford's program is called the "Ford Family Plan" and will shave thousands of dollars off the sticker prices of most 2005 model vehicles, company spokesman David Reuter said.

The program will run through Aug. 1, he said. Like the GM plan, Ford will sell its vehicles to anybody at the same low prices Ford employees pay.

"It's a great deal that we're going to deliver in a simple, consistent way to customers," Reuter said. "We're going to advertise this widely, in a huge significant way throughout the month."

Ford, which has seen its U.S. sales fall for 13 consecutive months, can ill afford not to remain competitive with GM. It has already warned that its core automotive operations may not be profitable this year.