DETROIT — Despite sales declines reported by the major Japanese car manufacturers, import sales in October rose 2.5% over the year-ago level and set a new record for the month.
The increase was due almost exclusively to the strong sales showing by Hyundai, the Korean auto manufacturer that began selling cars in the United States last February.
According to figures released by the auto makers on Tuesday, an estimated 272,000 imported cars were sold in the U.S. last month, an increase over the 265,314 sold in 1985.
"We continue to exceed our sales expectations," said Hyundai President S. H. Park. "Even with the seasonal downturn the industry has at this time of year, we expect to reach our new sales goal of 150,000 units by year-end." Hyundai sold 17,578 of its Excel subcompacts in October.
Meanwhile, domestic new car sales fell 7.7% in the last 10 days of October, continuing the decline that began earlier in the month when the extensive incentives that most manufacturers were offering expired. GM and Ford discontinued their discount financing programs on Oct. 8 and Chrysler's incentives ended Oct. 12.
Riding on the strength of brisk early October sales, month-end sales of U.S.-built cars were up 5.8%. A total of 632,816 units were sold in October, compared to 598,399 in October, 1985.
Analysts said they expect domestic sales to continue to suffer from the "payback" that traditionally follows strong incentive programs through the end of the month unless another consumer campaign is introduced.
On a seasonally adjusted basis, domestic new cars sold at a weak annual rate of 6.3 million, up slightly from the 6.1 million annual rate posted for the month last year. When the incentives were in full force in September, the annual rate shot up as high as 17 million. Imported cars sold at an annual rate of 3.5 million.
The annual rate is a reflection of the number of cars that would be sold if a period's sales pace were to continue for a full year. A total of 904,816 new cars were sold in October, up 4.8% over the 863,713 that were sold last year. Auto Sales
% October 1986 1985 change GM 328,735 325,572 +1.0 Ford 155,142 140,283 +10.6 Chrysler 102,269 98,642 +3.7 AMC 7,569 9,888 -23.5 VW* U.S. 5,372 6,370 -15.7 Honda U.S. 27,106 10,691 +290 Nissan U.S. 6,623 6,953 -4.7 DOMESTIC 632,816 598,399 +5.8 Toyota 54,363 60,554 -10.2 Nissan 38,578 44,679 -13.7 Honda 41,457 42,559 -2.6 Mazda 17,472 20,254 -13.7 Subaru 15,356 16,112 -4.7 Volvo 8,765 8,320 +5.3 Hyundai 17,578 -- -- VW* Imports 9,982 11,759 -15.1 Others* 68,449 61,077 +12.1 IMPORTS* 272,000 265,314 +2.5 TOTAL U.S. 904,816 863,713 +4.8