DETROIT — Despite a 7.7% decline posted by General Motors, sales of domestically built new cars rose 5.1% in mid-March, setting the pace for a strong spring selling season, the auto companies reported Monday.
The six domestic auto manufacturers sold 273,822 cars in the March 11-20 period, or 30,425 per day, compared to 231,481, or 28,935 per day, in the comparable period last year. There were nine selling days in the period this year and eight in 1984; year-to-year percentage changes are figured from the daily selling rate.
Industry analysts said cut-rate financing offered by Ford Motor and Chrysler on their small-car models continued to pull sales from GM during the latest period, and that forced the No. 1 auto maker to begin similar sales incentives last week.
GM Market Share Down
Although the move came too late to affect mid-March sales, analysts said GM's decision to offer incentives should help restore its lagging share of the market. GM's market share (excluding imports) fell to 52.9% of all car sales in mid-March, compared to 60.3% during the same period last year. Meanwhile, Ford's share rose to 27.5% from 23.6% a year ago, while Chrysler's rose to 16.1% from 12.2%.