DETROIT — Buoyed by the continuation of discount loans and other incentive programs, domestic new-car sales rose 3.3% in early March, the industry reported Wednesday.
In the March 1-10 period, the six U.S. auto makers reported sales of 193,946 cars, equal to a daily selling rate of 24,243, compared to 211,240 units, or a daily rate of 23,471, in the comparable 1984 period.
Percentage changes are calculated from the daily selling rate because there were eight selling days in the period this year versus nine last year.
General Motor Corp.'s sales dropped 8.1%. Analysts said some of the decline may be attributable to relatively low inventories.
They also said they expect GM to match sales incentives that apparently helped Ford Motor Corp. and Chrysler Corp. report higher sales for the period. Chrysler, Ford and American Motors Corp. are currently offering discount financing that appears to be spurring sales of small cars.
The seasonally adjusted annual rate of sales in early March was 8 million, down from late February's rate of 8.8 million but up from the 7.7-million annual rate of a year ago. The annual rate is a reflection of the number of cars that would be sold if the early March pace were to continue for a full year.
Volkswagen of America sales rose an estimated 16.4% for the period, while those of American Motors fell 37%.
Sales of Honda's U.S.-produced cars continued to boom in early March, rising 94.5% from the year before.
AUTO SALES Percentage changes in auto sales for the first 10 days of March are based on daily rates rather than total sales volume. There were 8 selling days in the 1985 period and 9 selling days in the Year-ago period. Total import sales are estimated based on incomplete reports.
March 1-10 March 1-10 % 10-DAY 1985 1984 change GM 103,604 126,808 -8.1 Ford 53,435 51,006 +17.9 Chrysler 28,483 24,872 +28.8 AMC 2,650 4,725 -37.0 VW U.S. 1,250 1,209 +16.4 Honda U.S. 4,524 2,620 +94.5 TOTAL 193,946 211,240 +3.3