General Motors' market guru, Paul Ballew, predicted Tuesday that total U.S. auto sales will decline in 2006, weighed down by higher interest rates and rising gas prices.

GM is trying to stem the tide by launching a zero-percent financing offer on many 2006 models. The limited-time offer runs from June 29 through July 5.

GM's sales for the summer of 2006 are bound to suffer in comparison to the huge numbers posted during 2005's "employee-pricing" discount sale, but even the beginning of the year has been slow, with sales for the first five months of 2006 down 8 percent year-over-year.

[Source: Reuters]