The car carrier strike, continued fear of government layoffs and a decline in fleet sales offset sales activity generated by lucrative customer incentive programs, and Maryland new car dealers posted their fourth consecutive month of lower sales in September.
According to registration figures released yesterday by the Motor Vehicle Administration, new vehicles sales were 4.5 percent lower last month than in the same month of 1994.
As has been the pattern in recent months, the decline in new car purchases was sharper in Maryland than in the nation as a whole. Industrywide, sales of cars and light trucks were down 3.1 percent from September 1994.
Edward Dreiband, president of Northwest Honda in Owings Mills, blamed a strike by Teamsters drivers against Ryder System Inc., the country's largest car hauling firm, for a 30 percent drop in his dealership's sales last month.
Mr. Dreiband said he didn't have the cars to sell. He said he likes to have between 100 and 125 vehicles in stock, but there were times when his supply was down to about 20.
Jeffrey A. Legum, president of Westminster Cadillac-Oldsmobile-Chevrolet, said he felt that business throughout the state is being hurt by concerns that federal employees may be losing their jobs as Congress seeks to cut the federal budget.
"Government workers are not buying the way they used to," he said.
Mr. Legum said that lease sales were down last month, which could have offset consumer sales.
To clear out leftover 1995 models and stimulate the sales of new vehicles rolling off the assembly line, manufacturers offered incentives ranging from $300 on a 1996 Ford Ranger mini pickup truck to $3,500 on a Cadillac Fleetwood sedan.
With hopes of passing General Motors Corp. in truck sales for the first time in a normal production year since 1935, Ford is also offering customers a $500 rebate on its full-size Econoline 150 pickup truck.
The state's figures show 29,625 new vehicles were bought last month, compared with 31,010 in September 1994. The average price was $19,298.
Used-car sales also were off last month. Dealers sold 48,645 previously owned cars, a decline of 5 percent from September 1994.