DETROIT — Automakers saw mixed sales results in August as the hype over this summer’s employee discounts faded and Hurricane Katrina ravaged dealerships in the South. Several companies reported a drop in truck sales, a likely result of rising gas prices.
The Big Three U.S. automakers’ sales dropped 6.8 percent compared to last August, although sales were up 3.5 percent for the first eight months of the year. All had expected some slowdown as excitement waned for discount programs that let customers pay the employee price. General Motors Corp.’s discount began in June, and Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler AG’s Chrysler Group matched the program in July.
Asian automakers saw their sales steadily increase in August even though they didn’t match the discounts. Car sales for Asian makers rose 15.5 percent, while truck sales were up 3 percent. Sales of Asian brands were up nearly 9 percent in the first eight months of the year.
The sales rate was slow after a blistering summer, and automakers predict September sales will be even slower. The seasonally adjusted annual sales rate was 16.7 million vehicles, indicating what sales would be for the full year if they remained at the same pace for all 12 months. Full-year sales for 2004 were 17 million.
GM’s car sales were down 15 percent from last August, and its truck sales were down 17 percent. GM’s overall sales were up 2.4 percent in the first eight months of the year.
Ford said U.S. sales of Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles were up 3 percent as consumers continued to take advantage of an employee discount program that began a month later than GM’s.
Chrysler said its sales were up 1 percent. Chrysler’s car sales were up 6.3 percent.
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