U.S. Car, Truck Sales Leap in Late August

From Associated Press

Car and truck sales in the United States soared 21.4% in late August compared to last year as customers took advantage of end-of-the-model-year sales and looming price increases, the auto makers said Wednesday.

For the entire month, with import sales included, car and truck sales rose 8.4% compared to August of last year. Domestic vehicles showed a significant gain.

Vehicles made by the eight major U.S. auto makers sold at an average rate of 49,276 a day during the Aug. 21-31 period this year, compared to a daily rate of 40,578 during the same time last year.

Domestic car sales were up 22.6%, and truck sales were up 19.4% in late August. For the month, domestic vehicle sales were up 13.1%, while import car and truck sales were down 4.8%.

August was a good month to buy cars. Typically, dealers offer special deals as the model year draws to a close, traditionally on Sept. 30. Besides that, manufacturers have been offering customers and dealers incentives that lower the prices of 1989 cars.

Consumers also were told that prices for 1990 cars would be going up, prompting some to buy now rather than later.

"Consumers have been bombarded by these price hikes on the 1990 models going up anywhere from 2% to 9%," said analyst Kathleen Heaney of Nikko Securities Co. International of New York. "Domestic auto makers haven't done that in a long time.

"It's people out there thinking, 'I've got to buy a car by the end of the year,' " she said.

Herb Adcox, owner of Adcox Chevrolet in Chattanooga, Tenn., said he's seen some increased traffic through his showroom recently, and incentives are the reason.

AUTO SALES

Aug. 21-31 % 10-Day 1989 change GM 134,159 + 10.8 Ford 93,501 + 28.3 Chrysler 40,340 + 12.7 Honda U.S. 18,245 + 11.7 Mitsubishi U.S. 1,656 * Nissan U.S. 8,267 + 11.9 Toyota U.S. 18,418 + 497 Mazda U.S. 2,064 + 23.2 TOTAL 316,650 + 22.6

* No comparison possible.

There were 10 selling days in the selling period this year, compared to 9 selling days last year.

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