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U.S. Auto Sales Plunge 38% in Mid-September

September 24, 1987|LESLIE ERINGAARD | Times Staff Writer

DETROIT — Despite major incentives on many domestic autos, total domestic car sales plunged 38.3% in mid-September, compared to the same period a year ago, the seven auto manufacturers reported Wednesday.

The newest incentive programs initiated by the Big Three auto companies include financing rates as low as 1.9% on two-year car loans. Automotive analysts agree, however, that the new low financing rates and rebate programs have failed to generate much excitement among consumers.

"It's got to be pretty unanimous that sales are disappointing," said John Hammond, an automotive analyst with J. D. Power & Associates. The expiration of the incentives "will still leave domestic manufacturers with unusual amounts of 1987 carry-over models going into the 1988 model year. . . . This creates the need for the manufacturers to re-examine (their) production schedules for the fourth quarter."

Hammond speculated that sales would pick up slightly in the final 10 days of September, just before incentives are scheduled to expire on Ford and General Motors vehicles. He added, however, that the expected surge will "not be enough to offset the dreary performance of the last month."

Of the seven domestic auto manufacturers, only Honda and Nissan posted gains in the second sales period of the month. Honda posted a gain of 12.5%, while Nissan reported an increase of 86.5% from last year.

Nissan's dramatic sales increase partly reflects its expanded production capacity for its U.S.-built models.

AUTO SALES Percentage changes in auto sales for the second 10 days of September are based on daily rates rather than total sales volume. There were 8 selling days in the current period and 9 in the year-ago period.

Sep. 11-20 Sep. 11-20 % 10-Day 1987 1986 change GM 79,675 157,534 -43.1 Ford 47,228 77,224 -31.2 Chrysler 21,710 50,246 -51.4 Honda U.S. 5,553 5,550 +12.6 VW U.S.* 1,281 2,092 -31.1 Nissan U.S. 3,313 1,995 +86.8 Toyota U.S. 2,873 -- -- TOTAL 161,633 294,641 -38.3


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