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New Model Year Off to Slow Start for Domestic Automakers With BC-Auto Sales-Table

October 15, 1991

DETROIT (AP) _ The 1992 model year got off to a bumpy start, as sales of North American- made cars and light trucks fell 10.1 percent in the first 10 days of October, figures indicated Tuesday.

Japanese automakers reported a 36.8 percent gain, but the Big Three domestic automakers saw their combined vehicle sales fall 14.3 percent. That dragged down overall sales.

Customer traffic seemed heavier in early October, said one dealer, but interest was focused mainly on snatching up remaining 1991 models at bargain prices.

″It’s been a little better than in the past,″ said Sal Caliri, sales manager at Mel Clayton Ford in Phoenix, Ariz. ″They are looking at ’91s more closely than ’92s.″

Shoppers are finding higher prices for 1992 models. GM is raising prices an average 3.1 percent; Ford, 3.7 percent; and Chrysler, 1.4 percent.

The sluggish economic recovery may also be behind customers’ reluctance to buy new cars. In addition, sales rates tend to drop in early October because of fire sales dealers hold in September to sell off 1991 inventory.

General Motors Corp. said combined car and light truck sales fell 16.5 percent during the Oct. 1-10 period, while Ford Motor Co. said its vehicle sales slipped 9 percent.

Chrysler Corp.’s car and truck sales fell an estimated 17.7 percent. Chrysler doesn’t report sales for 10-day segments. The Associated Press estimates Chrysler sales based on the company’s average monthly market share over the past 12 months.

The automakers are coming off a dismal 1991 model year, which ended Sept. 30. The 12.5 million cars and light trucks sold was the worst since 1983, when the automakers sold about 11.7 million vehicles.

For the year to date, North American-made car and truck sales are down 11.7 percent, with the Big Three falling 14.2 percent and Japanese sales up 9.2 percent.

Ford spokesman Joel Pitcoff said the 17.5 percent drop in Ford truck sales in early October was expected because the September push to clear out 1991 models stole away some prospective October buyers.

For the year, Ford’s truck sales were running 13.9 percent behind last year, while car sales, down 3.4 percent in the 10-day period, were running 16.9 percent behind last year’s pace.

GM’s car sales plummeted 19.2 percent in early October and were down 12.8 percent for the year to date. GM truck sales, which fell 9.7 percent in the 10-day period, were 15.1 percent behind in the year-to-date period.

Among the Japanese makers, car sales at Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. Inc., were up 43.8 percent in early October, but for the year, were down 4.7 percent.

Honda North America Inc.’s sales of North American-made cars were up 45.6 percent for the period and so far this year were 4 percent ahead of last year.

Nissan Motor Corp. said its car sales were down 12.2 percent in early October, but its truck sales rose 20.4 percent. For the year, Nissan’s total vehicle sales were 1.8 percent ahead of 1990.

Mazda North America Inc.’s combined car and truck sales were down 0.2 percent for the 10-day period, but for the year were 23.8 percent higher.

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