The nation's auto makers had a fourth consecutive 10-day period of declining sales in early November as the letdown from last summer's sales boom continued.
According to reports released Wednesday, the seven domestic manufacturers sold 146,969 new cars in the Nov. 1-10 period, a 12.4% drop from the comparable 1984 period. Percentage changes are based on the daily sales rate; there were eight selling days in the period this year versus nine the year before.
Auto industry analysts said the recent slump is a result of the artificially high sales in late August and September, when the auto makers offered broad consumer incentives.
Tom O'Grady, president of Integrated Automotive Resources, an auto industry forecasting firm, said he expects sales to continue to fall, though at a decreasing rate, for several months, barring another round of extensive incentives.
He added, however, that the sales declines have not been as steep as expected. "The incentive programs pulled sales from the future, but they also pulled in some people that might not have purchased a car without them," he said.
Ford, measuring its sales against a strong period last year and suffering from depleted inventories, said its sales fell 32.4% in early November. Chrysler, also struggling with a reduced supply of cars in stock, said its sales were off 6.5%. GM reported a 4.8% decline in sales.
With a 75-day supply of cars in stock and robust fourth-quarter production schedules, analysts said General Motors may be forced to introduce another broad-based incentive campaign in order to boost sales and reduce dealer inventories.
They noted, however, that Ford and Chrysler might have a difficult time following an aggressive sales campaign because of their lean inventories.
On a seasonally adjusted basis, new-car sales in early November equaled a weak 5.9-million annual rate, compared to a 6.7-million rate in the same period a year ago. Auto Sales Percentage changes in auto sales for the first 10 days of November are based on daily rates rather than total sales volume. There were 8 selling days in the 1985 period and 9 selling days in the year-ago period.
Nov. 1-10 Nov. 1-10 % 10-Day 1985 1984 change GM 87,224 103,075 -4.8 Ford 31,248 51,988 -32.4 Chrysler 20,895 25,168 -6.5 AMC* 2,300 4,200 -38.3 VW U.S. 1,119 637 +97.1 Honda U.S. 2,883 3,707 -12.6 Nissan U.S.* 1,300 -- -- TOTAL 146,969 188,775 -12.4