Imports Give Boost to Car Sales in May

Times Staff Writer

U.S. car sales rose 2.6% in May from the strong results in the same month last year, the auto makers said Tuesday, but the rise was almost entirely due to a 9.5% jump in the sales of imported makes.

Imports took 24.8% of all May sales, their largest share for any month so far this year. That led some industry observers to note that increased quotas on Japanese imports that took effect April 1 are starting to have an effect on the market.

They said the full impact won't be felt until the second half of the year, when Japanese auto producers have had a chance to gear up production and distribution.

"What we are seeing now is only the tip of the iceberg," said Ted Sullivan, auto analyst with Data Resources, an economic forecasting firm. "It's going to get a lot worse, if you look at it through the eyes of the domestic manufacturers."

Sales of the seven domestic auto makers--General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, American Motors, Volkswagen of America, American Honda and Nissan U.S.A.--were relatively flat in May, up just 0.5% from May, 1984.

Import sales for the month were an estimated 266,000, pushing the May industry unit sales total over the 1 million mark to 1,073,590.

Sullivan credited the relatively strong sales results to a favorable economic environment, adding that the current sales pace can be expected to slacken a bit in the coming months.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, new-car sales by domestic manufacturers in May equaled an 8.7-million annual rate, compared to 8.6 million in May, 1984.

Auto Sales

% May 1985 1984 change GM 479,554 493,670 -2.9 Ford 194,547 178,006 +9.3 Chrysler 97,981 94,880 +3.3 AMC 10,063 15,131 -33.5 VW U.S. 8,088 9,220 -12.3 Honda U.S. 15,096 12,366 +22.1 Nissan U.S. 2,261 -- -- DOMESTIC 807,590 803,273 +0.5 Toyota 69,846 60,506 +15.4 Nissan 51,251 52,374 -2.1 Honda 35,662 34,299 +4.0 Mazda 15,792 16,154 -2.2 Subaru 14,441 14,305 +1.0 Volvo 10,025 10,003 +0.2 VW Imports 16,064 12,582 +27.7 Others 52,919 42,777 +23.7 IMPORTS * 266,000 243,000 +9.5 TOTAL U.S. 1,073,590 1,046,273 +2.6


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