Chrysler's drop in car sales is more than offset by trucks Overall 3.1% gain tops the estimates

Auto industry

March 04, 1998|By BLOOMBERG NEWS

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Chrysler Corp.'s U.S. car and truck sales rose 3.1 percent in February, beating estimates, with a surge in truck sales offsetting a sharp drop in car sales.

The nation's No. 3 automaker said its total sales rose to 200,068 from 193,983 vehicles in February 1996. Car sales fell 9.1 percent to 64,506 and truck sales rose 10 percent to 135,563.

Analysts had expected sales to be little changed from February 1996 as car sales continue to lag, in part because of the model changeover of the LH full-size sedans. Still, there were some bright spots in car sales, such as the sale of a record 12,152 Dodge Stratus cars.

Chrysler shares rose 18.75 cents to $39.375 yesterday on the New York Stock Exchange.

"Our sales continue to be robust," said James Holden, execu- tive vice president of sales and marketing.

Truck sales gains came from the Dodge Durango and Jeep Cherokee sport utility vehicles and from minivan sales.

Chrysler is expected to be the lone Detroit auto company to post a sales increase for January. Industry sales are expected to fall 2 percent from the year-ago period.

Among other automakers, Honda Motor Co. reported a record February, with sales of 71,770, up 8.3 percent from the year-earlier period. Accord sales rose 19 percent.

Toyota Motor Co. reported a 5.7 percent sales gain, to 90,922, from the year-earlier period, even as Camry sales slid 10 percent. Mitsubishi Motors Corp. sales declined 25 percent to 7,250.

Volkswagen of America Inc. reported its best February sales in a decade. VW sold 11,682 cars in February, up 26.3 percent from the year-ago month.

General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. are to report January sales today.

Both are expected to report small decreases.

Pub Date: 3/04/98

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