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Cars are rolling off lots



Published: Fri, November 2, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



GM and Ford sales soared in October because of zero-percent financing.

STAFF/WIRE REPORTS

DETROIT -- Sales of the Chevrolet Cavalier rose 71 percent last month as General Motors recorded its best sales month in 15 years.

Bill Lovejoy, GM vice president, said the company's offerings of low-interest and no-interest financing spurred sales.

Cavalier sales, which have been sluggish most of the year, rose dramatically in October. The model, which is built at the Lordstown Assembly Plant along with the Pontiac Sunfire, retained its spot as GM's top-selling car.

Chevrolet sold 30,713 Cavaliers last month, compared with 18,010 in October 2000.

Up on last year: Year-to-date sales edged up slightly over last year's pace. Chevrolet sold 204,822 Cavaliers through October, up 610 from the first 10 months of last year.

Pontiac sold 7,764 Sunfires last month, which was a 32 percent increase over the 5,878 sold in October 2000. Through October, 64,699 Sunfires had been sold, which is 10 percent less than the 72,013 sold in the first 10 months last year.

Riding the wave of zero-percent financing, GM, and Ford Motor Co. reported sharply higher October auto sales, while the Chrysler Group of DaimlerChrysler AG saw a more modest rise.

GM reported it sold 546,093 vehicles last month, a 31 percent increase over October 2000. It was its best month since September 1986.

Ford sold 400,893 vehicles in October, 36 percent more than the same month a year ago.

Sales of Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep brand vehicles were up 5 percent, with just more than 209,000 units sold.

Truck sales for GM soared 47 percent, setting an all-time monthly record for the automaker. GM passenger car sales increased 15.4 percent.

"Wow is the appropriate word," GM sales analyst Paul Ballew said.

Sales of Ford passenger cars were up 40.5 percent, and light truck sales increased 34 percent over October 2000. Overall sales rose to 400,893 for the month.

A record: The automaker said its F-Series pickup trucks achieved a record for any month, selling 102,424 units.

The Ford Focus also sold in record numbers for any month, and the Explorer sport utility vehicle had a record October, up 45.2 percent over last year.

"It was an extraordinary month made possible by an extraordinary offer," said George Pipas, Ford sales analyst.

While sales of Chrysler Group passenger cars dipped 1.5 percent, sales of trucks jumped 7.2 percent.

The company's hottest vehicles, the Jeep Liberty and PT Cruiser, both set sales records last month despite being left out of zero-percent finance programs.

Sales for the PT Cruiser were up 9 percent over October 2000. The Jeep Liberty was not in production last year. About 16,000 Jeep Libertys were sold, the most since it became available last spring.




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