Ford's sales dropped 4.3% in July No. 2 automaker expected to overtake GM in sales for first time since 1970


August 05, 1998|By BLOOMBERG NEWS

DEARBORN, Mich. -- Ford Motor Co.'s U.S. car and truck sales fell 4.3 percent in July as lower car sales and a cutback in price discounts offset a modest increase in truck demand.

The second-largest automaker said yesterday that truck sales were 5.2 percent higher than in the same period a year ago, at 214,235 vehicles, while car sales fell 17 percent to 128,948. Analysts had expected Ford's sales to be little changed.

The results come in what is expected to be one of the year's slowest sales months, a result of the strikes at General Motors Corp. and reduced discounts. Last month, Ford, GM and Chrysler Corp. ended their "loyalty coupon" discounts of up to $1,000 to motorists who were again buying the same brand of car. Those discounts fueled record industrywide sales in June.

"Everybody's sales will be down from the strong levels" earlier this year, said Alan Baum, an auto industry consultant with IRN Inc. in Grand Rapids, Mich. Through June, U.S. vehicle sales were 4.3 percent higher this year than in the same period a year ago. Ford's sales had risen 0.5 percent through June.

Ford was expected to outsell GM for the first time since December 1970. GM is expected to report today a 40 percent decline in sales for July, analysts said. Ford shares fell $2.88 to $53.88, part of a broad market decline as the Dow Jones industrial average fell 299.43 to 8,487.31.

Ford sales fell as the company pulled back on some of its discount programs. In addition, the automaker has stopped selling several unprofitable car lines that were available in July 1997, such as the Ford Probe and Aspire.

Ford's F-series trucks continue to be the best-selling vehicles in the United States, with sales rising 25 percent to 81,133. Cut-rate financing helped boost sales of the Expedition sport utility vehicle by 28 percent, to 20,271.

Pub Date: 8/05/98

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