Lordstown's Cavalier keeps up sales slump



Domestic automakers continue to lose market share to Asian rivals.
STAFF/WIRE REPORTS
Sales of the Chevrolet Cavalier remained low as production of the model nears an end at the General Motors' Lordstown complex.
GM said Tuesday that it sold 19,952 Cavaliers in the United States in July, 28 percent less than the 27,614 sold in July 2003.
For the year, Cavalier sales are off 21 percent at 123,870.
In October, the Lordstown complex will stop production on the Cavalier and switch to the Cobalt, an all-new small car.
Overall, sales of new cars and trucks rebounded in July from anemic sales the month before, even as the nation's two largest automakers, GM and Ford Motor Co., both reported weaker year-over-year results. GM and Ford continued to lose market share to Asian rivals.
Best month of year
No. 1 GM, coming off a bigger-than-expected double-digit sales drop in June, posted its best sales month of the year, helped by aggressive but costly consumer incentives.
No. 2 Ford also had a solid month for retail sales, but its overall results came in below year-ago results for the fifth month this year.
Among July's big winners were DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group, Nissan Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp.
Toyota brands outsold those from Chrysler by more than 10,587, according to Autodata Corp.
Still, Chrysler's business was up 2.35 percent last month on a 22 percent surge in car sales.
Chrysler has posted a year-over-year sales increase in nine of the past 10 months.
Chrysler's sales have been buoyed by the new Chrysler 300, a uniquely styled sedan that's become a favorite among baby boomers and rap stars alike.
The automaker sold 12,915 300s in July, up from 11,300 in June.
"It's attracting customers across all demographic segments," said Gary Dilts, Chrysler's senior vice president for sales. "You can't buy this kind of popularity and appeal."
Asian automakers
Nissan's U.S. arm recorded its best month ever, and Toyota's American division had its best-ever July. Asian automakers have increased their U.S. business by 7.3 percent in the first seven months of the year, while Detroit's Big Three were down 1.4 percent.
Overall, the U.S. industry bounced back from June, even though total sales were down slightly less than 1 percent from a strong, incentives-driven month a year ago.
The seasonally adjusted annual sales rate for July was 17.3 million units, well above June's 15.4 million pace but below May's rate of 17.8 million.
"The industry is reaping the benefits of the highest consumer confidence ratings in two years," said Jim Press, executive vice president of Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc. "Fuel prices are holding steady, the job market continues to improve and 2005 models are hitting showrooms. Those factors bode well for a strong third quarter."
Sales total down
GM said its car sales fell 4 percent last month and truck sales declined 3 percent.
The result was a sales total down 3.4 percent from an exceptionally strong month a year ago. The company's GMC brand posted record sales for July.
GM sold 451,505 vehicles in the month, the most for any month this year.
"We had solid growth in both sales volume and share, led by record utility sales," said John Smith, GM's group vice president for North American sales, service and marketing.

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