DETROIT -- General Motors Corp. said yesterday that its U.S. vehicle sales fell 13 percent in June, continuing a pattern of lower demand industrywide because of strikes, competition from used-car sales, and tapped-out consumers.
GM's decline from the same month a year ago was greater than expected. It follows Chrysler Corp.'s report earlier in the week that its sales fell 4 percent and Toyota Motor Corp.'s 2.3 percent decline.
Industry sales this year to date are 1.9 percent below 1996 levels, despite larger incentives. This week's numbers are more evidence the economy isn't overheating, analysts said.
"The peak for industry demand this year has passed," said Diane Swonk, an economist with First Chicago NBD Bank.
Industry sales were stronger than expected in the first quarter, then slowed from March to June. Still, many analysts expect full-year sales to be almost 15 million units, a level automakers consider healthy. Last year's sales were 15.1 million units.
The companies are using higher incentives to maintain the sales pace. The dollar value of cash-back offers, subsidized interest and lease rates and other programs, rose to $3,708 per vehicle last month, compared with $2,896 in June a year ago, according to CNW Marketing Research in Bandon, Ore. The numbers include incentives from manufacturers to car dealers as well as to customers.
U.S. sales in June probably will hit a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 14.2 million, down from 14.8 million a year ago, analysts said. With 14 automakers reporting as of today, industry sales fell 6.4 percent from June 1996, to 951,449.
"We're still sucking some wind," said Nick Colas, an analyst with Credit Suisse First Boston.
GM's North American-built car sales fell 18 percent to 219,877, about what analysts expected. Pickup truck, minivan and sport utility vehicle sales fell 7.7 percent to 155,576, more than projected.
The automaker said United Auto Workers strikes in Pontiac, Mich., and Oklahoma City hurt sales by reducing availability of popular full-size Chevrolet and GMC pickup trucks and Chevrolet Malibu cars.
The strikes cut 96,000 units from production plans in the second quarter, which equals three-fourths of a point of market share. That foiled GM officials' goal of increasing its U.S. market share to 33 percent.
"The demand for [full-size] trucks is very high right now, and we're being hurt by [those strikes]," said Dean Rotondo, a GM spokesman.
Ford Motor Co. is expected to issue its June report today. Analysts expect the automaker's sales to be little changed from June 1996.
Pub Date: 7/03/97