DETROIT — Sales of U.S.-built cars rose 8.8% in early July as cut-rate financing incentives apparently continued to lure customers into dealer showrooms.
The seven domestic manufacturers reported Tuesday that they sold 189,441 new cars in the July 1-10 period, compared to 174,050 units in the same period last year.
Industry analysts attributed the strong sales showing to the auto makers' effective use of incentives. Detroit's Big Three manufacturers, which have successfully boosted sales since April with discount financing programs, announced earlier this month that they would expand their programs and extend them through September.
"The U.S. auto makers have fine-tuned their incentives to hold sales at an 8-million annual rate," noted Harvey Heinbach, an auto analyst with Merrill Lynch. "And that is good enough to keep sales and production in line."
Chrysler Cuts Prices
Chrysler led the way in sales increases. The No. 3 auto maker, in addition to offering incentive programs similar to those of Ford and GM, recently reduced the price of its Omni/Horizon subcompact line to $5,499 while adding options as standard equipment. Faced with higher prices on most Japanese subcompacts, consumers purchased more than twice as many Omnis and Horizons in early July as last year.
Nissan U.S. said it will only report sales on a monthly basis until it resumes production at its Smyrna, Tenn., plant, which has been shut down for retooling.
On a seasonally adjusted basis, domestic new cars sold at an annual rate of 8.8 million in early July, up from the 8.2-million annual rate posted in 1985.
July 1-10 July 1-10 % 10-Day 1986 1985 change GM 03,896 96,410 +7.8 Ford 49,848 45,803 +8.8 Chrysler 29,686 23,631 +25.6 AMC* 1,350 3,060 -55.9 VW U.S. 1,858 1,270 +46.3 Honda U.S. 2,803 2,833 -1.1 Nissan U.S. N.A. N.A. N.A. TOTAL 189,441 174,050 +8.8 * Estimate