Auto sales fell slightly in June


DETROIT -- June car and truck sales showed the power of incentives: vehicles with them generally sold well, while those with none remained for the most part on dealer lots.

While figures released yesterday showed that industry sales slipped one-tenth of 1 percent in June from the corresponding month a year earlier, gains like Chrysler's 11.7 percent increase were bolstered by heavy incentives.

Indeed, automakers and dealers combined spent an average of $2,700 a vehicle to promote sales, including cash rebates to customers and incentives for dealer sales forces, according to CNW Marketing/Research in Bandon, Ore. That amount was more than double the year-ago level and the highest since January 1992.

"If it ain't on sale, it ain't selling," said Joseph Phillippi, an auto analyst for Lehman Bros.

Sales reports from Chrysler Corp. and General Motors Corp. illustrate the role played by incentives.

Chrysler extended existing incentives and introduced a variety of new and bigger incentives last month, including rebates of up to $2,000 on its 1995 minivans.

As a result, Chrysler said yesterday that it had set 19 sales records across its vehicle lines. Its car sales rose 18.7 percent, to 89,418 units, while truck sales increased 7.8 percent, to 146,986.

General Motors, which reported its results on Monday, offered minimal incentives compared with Chrysler and Ford Motor Co.

GM's total vehicle sales fell 4.2 percent in June, to 459,614, with car sales down 5.5 percent, to 278,967.

Offering fewer incentives than Chrysler but more than GM, Ford yesterday reported sales of 364,014 cars and trucks in June, about even with levels a year earlier.

Its truck sales, paced by the F-Series pickup truck and Explorer sport utility vehicle, rose 7.7 percent, to 191,596; car sales dropped 5.7 percent, to 172,418, despite incentives on the Ford Taurus as the company prepared to introduce a redesigned 1996 version. Still, the Taurus maintained its position as the best-selling car in the country for the first half of 1995.

Among foreign automakers, Toyota Motor Co.'s U.S. subsidiary said yesterday that total vehicle sales declined 2.8 percent in June, to 108,413. Honda Motor Co.'s U.S. subsidiary reported sales of 70,847 cars and trucks, down 2.4 percent from June 1994. Nissan Motor Co. said Monday that total U.S. vehicle sales fell 6.3 in June, while Mazda Motor Corp. said June sales tumbled 16.5 percent.

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