Domestic vehicle sales up 11.9% in late March

April 06, 1993|By New York Times News Service

DETROIT -- Sales of domestically produced vehicles rose 11.9 percent in late March, a gain that may have reflected pent-up demand from earlier in the month, when harsh weather interrupted normal shopping patterns in many areas.

Sales of North American-built cars rose 8 percent, to 247,736, in the March 21-31 period. Sales of light trucks, which include mini-vans, sport-utility vehicles and pickups, rose 17.8 percent, to 179,290.

Over all, domestic vehicle sales totaled 427,026. For reporting purposes, vehicles made in Canada and Mexico, as well as in the United States, are domestic, regardless of where the manufacturer is based.

The seasonally adjusted annual rate of car sales for the period was 6.6 million, compared with 6 million in mid-March and 6.2 million in the last third of March 1992.

"No one in the Northeast could get at the cars to buy them during the early part of the month," said Maryann Keller, automotive analyst for Furman Selz Inc. "I'd have to call the recovery anemic, one decent 10-day period followed by a couple of weak ones. "

Some dealers say they detect a slight improvement in consumer outlook. "One thing I've found . . . is the attitude of the buyer has changed from needing to buy to actually wanting to buy," said Ray Tenley, sales manager of Terry Oldsmobile-GMC Truck in Cincinnati.

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