DETROIT — Bouncing back from an early May decline, sales of U.S.-built cars jumped 18.2% in the middle 10 days of this month, the auto companies reported Thursday.
The seven domestic auto manufacturers--General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, American Motors, Volkswagen of America, Honda and Nissan--sold 268,009 cars in mid-May this year, a substantial increase over the 226,797 sold in the same period in 1984.
"Sales are super good," said David Healy, an industry analyst with Drexel Burnham Lambert. He noted that the most recent sales results offset the "air pocket" in sales earlier this month when domestic sales fell 8.6%.
Healy said that, while the 10-day sales numbers have been fluctuating a great deal lately, they average out to a steady sales pace.
Annual Rate Rises
On a seasonally adjusted basis, new-car sales equaled an annual rate of 9.5 million during mid-May, up from the 8.1-million annual rate of the first 10 days. Industry analysts said the average of the two rates is more in line with the expected sales volume for the year.
The annual rate is an estimate of the number of cars that would be sold if the current selling rate continued for a full year.
Analysts also said that sales were aided by the discount financing programs that Ford, GM, Chrysler and AMC are currently offering on selected models. All of the incentive programs are scheduled to remain in effect throughout the month, and some will continue through early June.
"The auto companies are using incentives in a selective way," said analyst John Hammond of Data Resources, an economic forecasting firm. By offering them on slow-selling models, the auto makers are able to reduce their inventories of unsold cars, Hammond said. But he noted that incentives tend to distort sales figures. Sales could drop again when incentives are removed, he warned.
Of the seven auto makers, only AMC reported a sales decline for the period. AMC, which has yet to post a sales gain this year, said its sales were off an estimated 32.6% in mid-May.
May 11-20 May 11-20 % 10-Day 1985 1984 change GM 163,425 139,925 +16.8 Ford 62,803 50,489 +24.4 Chrysler 33,503 27,445 +22.1 AMC* 3,000 4,450 -32.6 VW U.S. 2,066 1,946 +6.2 Honda U.S. 2,612 2,542 +2.8 Nissan U.S.* 600 -- -- TOTAL 268,009 226,797 +18.2