Vehicle sales gain in Maryland They fall 8.8% in U.S., rise nearly 2% here

August 29, 1998|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,SUN STAFF

Maryland new car and truck dealers posted a second consecutive month of higher sales during July, according to figures released yesterday by the Motor Vehicle Administration.

The nearly 2 percent increase in sales last month contrasted sharply with the 8.8 percent decline in U.S. car and light truck sales, due primarily to the strikes at General Motors Corp.

"I met with a lot of GM dealers last month and I was surprised at how many cars they had in inventory," said Peter Kitzmiller, who recently took over as president of the Maryland New Car and Truck Dealers Association.

Kitzmiller said consumers had slim pickings at some GM dealers when it came to hot-selling trucks and sport utility vehicles, but they seemed to turn to other brands rather than not buy at all.

Based on title registrations, which equate to sales, the MVA said consumers bought 30,938 new vehicles in July. That compares with 30,383 bought during July 1997.

An increasing number of car buyers turned to the used car lot last month to meet their transportation needs.

Sales of previously owned vehicles totaled 52,558 in July, up 6 percent, from the 49,574 units sold in July 1997, the MVA reported.

Dealers had 22 selling days in each period.

According to the MVA, the average price of a new vehicle was $21,367 last month -- up $374 from from the average price in June.

Although U.S. sales of car and light trucks were off nearly 9 percent last month, the news was not all bad, according to Automotive News.

Not counting GM, the industry trade publication reported, sales were 4.8 percent ahead of the July 1997 pace.

Chrysler posted its ninth consecutive month of record truck sales, although minivan sales were off sharply.

American Honda Motor Co. Inc., posted its fourth straight month of record sales, and July was its second best month ever.

Lexus outsold every luxury brand, including Cadillac, Lincoln, Mercedes-Benz and BMW.

GM sales of cars and light trucks were 38 percent lower than in July 1997.

Pub Date: 8/29/98

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