Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Automakers Post Higher Sales

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Automakers Post Higher Sales

Article excerpt

DETROIT (AP) -- Ford, DaimlerChrysler and Japan's Big Three automakers reported another month of stronger U.S. sales Monday as the latest boom in vehicle demand entered its second year.

Monthly year-to-year sales comparisons have been up for the past year except July and August, when total sales were artificially depressed as two strikes against General Motors severely restricted its supply.

The reasons for April's improvement were familiar: a robust economy and consumers confident enough about the future to take on the increased debt of a new car or truck. "The economy has the legs of a marathon runner," said Yale Gieszl, a vice president of Toyota Motor Sales USA. "Consumers look at interest rates, inflation, Wall Street and the job market and have every reason to be confident." GM, the largest automaker, planned to release its April figures today. Analysts expected GM's sales to be flat to slightly down. "Barring any surprises from GM... it looks like another gangbuster month," said analyst David Healy of Burnham Securities. Ford said its April sales were up 7 percent last month, compared with April 1998. Sales of light trucks set an April record -- the company's 12th straight monthly record for pickups, vans, minivans and sport utility vehicles combined. Car sales were up 5 percent. The figures do not include Ford's Volvo or Jaguar Cars units, each of which reported its U.S. sales rose 5 percent. Ford said demand is so strong that it is again increasing its second quarter production schedule, this time by 20,000 additional vehicles. With last month's 30,000 increase, Ford now plans to build just over 1.26 million cars and trucks during the April-June period. It was a somewhat unusual month at DaimlerChrysler's Chrysler unit, in that its biggest improvement came in car sales. Total sales improved 2 percent; cars were up 6 percent while truck sales were flat. The Chrysler unit sells more than twice as many light trucks as cars. But its minivan sales fell 19 percent just as the spring buying season was heating up, and pickup sales were flat. …

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