Chrysler sales rise 3.2%, but analysts expected 5% Auto industry

August 04, 1998|By BLOOMBERG NEWS

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Chrysler Corp.'s U.S. sales of cars and trucks rose 3.2 percent in July, less than expected, as lower demand for cars offset improved sales of trucks and minivans.

Truck sales rose 8.6 percent to 146,503 vehicles, while car sales fell 8.2 percent to 59,915, the third-largest U.S. automaker reported yesterday.

Analysts had expected a 5 percent overall increase.

Chrysler's sales have benefited from an updated lineup of key truck models, such as the Durango sport-utility vehicle and Ram four-door pickup. Chrysler also has offered $1,500 discounts to spur demand for minivans.

"They've revitalized themselves this year from a product and competitive point of view," said George Magliano, an auto industry consultant with the WEFA Group in New York.

Through June, Chrysler's U.S. sales were 8.4 percent higher than in the year-earlier period, rising to 1.30 million. It was the largest increase among the Detroit-based carmakers and followed disappointing sales in 1997.

Chrysler is the first of those automakers to report July results, and it is expected to have the biggest gains.

Ford Motor Co. is expected to post little-changed sales today. General Motors Corp. is expected to report tomorrow that its July sales fell about 40 percent. Two recently settled strikes cut the availability of cars on dealers' lots.

Pub Date: 8/04/98

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