Incentives boost Sept. auto sales

Oct. 3, 2004 at 5:13 PM
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DETROIT, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- Labor Day specials and final clearance sales on 2004 models initiated by General Motors boosted new car and truck sales nationwide in September.

Some 1.4 million new cars, minivans, sport utility vehicles and trucks were sold last month, up 10.2 percent from September 2003, the Detroit Free Press reported. Incentives helped sales at GM to rise nearly 25 percent and take 31.7 percent of industry sales for a market-share rise of 3.8 percent.

The good showing helped GM, the world's largest automaker, to within a tenth of a percentage point of its 27.9 percent market share in the first nine months of 2003.

August sales were slowed by hurricanes and bad weather.

GM downplayed concerns that heavy discounting will hurt profits.

"Our contribution margins are holding up fairly well, I would leave it at that," GM's Paul Ballew said in a conference call with journalists, referring to sales minus variable costs like incentives. "We look at incentives as one part of pricing."

Ford Motor Co. matched GM's end-of-month sale offering on 2004 models, but was one of seven automakers that saw September sales drop.

Sales for the month were up 13.3 percent at DaimlerChrysler AG.

Topics: Paul Ballew
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