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Sales for Big Auto Makers Fall as '96 Model Year Opens

November 02, 1995|From Associated Press

DETROIT — Major auto makers suffered sales declines as they inaugurated the 1996 model year.

Reports issued Wednesday by most of the major companies show that the industry's combined U.S. sales in October were about 6% lower than a year ago. That estimate doesn't include Ford and five European companies that report later in the week.

General Motors Corp. said passenger car sales were up 6.5% for the month, but the tail end of a Teamsters car-hauler strike squeezed its supply of light trucks. Truck sales in October were down 16.5% from last year. Overall, GM sales were down about 3%.

Chrysler Corp.'s report was the reverse of GM's: Car sales were off 11% while truck sales were up slightly. Combined, the company's U.S. deliveries were down 3%.

The major Japanese companies also reported declines. Honda was off just 1% from October, 1994, thanks to a 25% increase in sales of its compact Civic. The Civic is new for 1996 and probably spurred buyer interest, the company said.

Nissan sales were down 17.8%. Toyota's sales were 10.1% behind those of a year ago. Mazda and Mitsubishi both reported October sales totals more than 30% lower than in October, 1994.

Analyst David Healy of Burnham Securities said rising prices is probably a major contributor to the sales decline.

In addition, an abundance of late-model used cars has depressed used-car prices. That means new-car shoppers are being offered less for the vehicles they trade in. That makes prices of new cars look even steeper.

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