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U.S. Auto Sales Dive 39% After Incentives Run Out

October 15, 1987|LESLIE ERINGAARD | Times Staff Writer

DETROIT — When car-buying incentives by the big U.S. auto makers ended Sept. 30, so did the strong demand for their cars.

Domestic auto sales plummeted 39% in early October, compared to a year ago, it was reported Wednesday.

The Big Three auto companies in Detroit and the four foreign firms that assemble cars in the United States said they sold a total of 151,043 U.S.-made autos in the first 10 days of October, compared to 247,623 in the same period a year ago.

"It's obvious that customers are not going to buy without some kind of strong financial incentives," said Thomas O'Grady, an automotive analyst with Integrated Automotive Resources. "Who are those 151,000 people who bought cars? What are they going to buy? Many of them bought the 1987 models, which still have incentives on them."

GM Optimistic

O'Grady said he expected to see more incentive programs initiated in the near future, particularly by General Motors. "I expect some pretty strong mail campaigns from GM soon," he said.

Meanwhile, GM officials were optimistic about the 1988 model year that began Oct. 1. "GM sales in early October were below 1986 because last year's record 2.9 annual percentage rate incentive activity did not conclude until Oct. 8, while this year's incentive ended Sept. 30," said C. N. (Bud) Moore, vice president in charge of GM customer sales and service staff.

"We expect 1988 model sales to gain momentum. We have a strong bank of orders, and dealers report favorable reception for GM's new cars and trucks," he added.

AUTO SALES Oct. 1-10 Oct. 1-10 % 10-Day 1987 1986 change GM 77,032 137,030 -43.8 Ford 38,662 60,423 -36.0 Chrysler 24,714 42,047 -41.2 Honda U.S. 6,784 5,203 +30.4 VW U.S.* 805 1,310 -38.5 Nissan U.S. 2,153 1,610 +33.7 Toyota U.S. 893 -- -- TOTAL 151,043 247,623 -39.0 *Estimate

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