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U.S. Automakers’ Sales Decline

From Bloomberg News

General Motors Corp. and its two U.S.-based rivals led an industrywide drop in domestic auto sales last month, as the allure of no-interest loans waned. Japanese automakers did better, with Honda Motor Co. increasing sales 11%.

Sales at GM, the world’s biggest automaker, fell 8.7%, No. 2 Ford Motor Co.'s dropped 6.7% and DaimlerChrysler’s Chrysler unit had a 10% decline.

Japanese firms such as Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s third-biggest automaker, have gained U.S. market share for 10 straight years. The share of Toyota, Honda and other Asian automakers rose 1.4 percentage points in the first quarter to 32.9%, compared with 24.6% at the end of 1997, according to Autodata Corp.

GM led all automakers in April by spending $3,871 per vehicle on incentives, up 1.5% from March, after it extended no-interest loan offers to five years on almost all of its models, according to CNW Marketing Research. Ford spent $3,286 and Chrysler spent $3,294, about the same as in March, CNW said.

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By comparison, Toyota’s incentive spending was $2,207 per vehicle, up 5.4%, and Honda’s was $996, almost even with March, according to CNW.

Ford shares fell 32 cents to $9.98 on the New York Stock Exchange. GM shares slid 55 cents to $35.50, and U.S.-traded shares of DaimlerChrysler declined 28 cents to $32.12.

GM’s sales dropped to 400,687, Ford’s dropped to 298,037 and Chrysler’s to 187,086.

Nissan Motor Co., Japan’s No. 3 automaker, posted a 4.2% decline in combined sales of Nissan and Infiniti brands. Seoul-based Hyundai Motor Co. sold 35,001 vehicles, an 8.7% gain from April a year ago.

Honda, the fifth-biggest seller of autos in the U.S., sold 117,783 new cars, including 15,058 at its Acura luxury division. Toyota, Japan’s biggest automaker, said sales fell 0.9% to 151,784 after adjusting for one fewer sales day.


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