General Motors Corp., claiming success with a new pricing initiative started in late 1993, said it set the pace in retail vehicle sales in California last year, topping Ford Motor Co. for the first time since 1991.
GM started its "value pricing" program in September, 1993, selling well-equipped versions of its cars and trucks at a fixed price without offering any discounts. For 1995, the nation's top auto maker has expanded the California strategy to 74 models from 46.
GM, in efforts to increase its market share in California, where Japanese and other Asian makes are strong sellers, sold 259,099 cars and trucks on a retail basis in the state last year, according to the R. L. Polk statistical service. That was up 13.2% from the 228,954 vehicles it sold in California in 1993.
Ford's retail sales were 256,978 vehicles last year. Toyota Motor Co. was third with 167,226, and Honda Motor Co. fourth with 129,640.
California is still the biggest market for import brands in terms of volume, accounting for 15.1% their sales nationally. By comparison, California accounted for only 6.5% of GM's national sales.
The value-pricing strategy helped boost GM's share of the California market to 22.3% in 1994, up from 20.9% in 1993, the auto maker said.
Ann N. Pattyn, manager of GM's California value-pricing project, had predicted last summer that GM would surpass Ford as the top domestic seller in California, possibly this year.