Fueled by a record number of deliveries by Ford Motor Co., new-car sales reached their highest early June levels ever, the four U.S. auto makers reported yesterday.
Delivery of 283,274 cars during the June 1-10 period topped the previous record, set a year ago, by 2.2 percent. Both periods included nine selling days.
The performance was "a little above expectations," an industry analyst said yesterday.
Ford, with a strong showing by its new compact Fairmont and Zephyr models, exceeded year-ago sales by 11.4 percent. Chrysler Corp. sales were up 2.1 percent and American Motors Corp, sales increased 1.1 percent, cent.
Only General Motors Corp. posted a sales decline compared with last year's figures. But a company spokesman said GM's total of 163,793 units was its second best early June sale performance.
"Coming off a record May, that's pretty good," he said.
Ford's total sales were 77,499 units. The previous record was set in 1967.
It was the best 10-day sales period in two years for AMC. The No. 4 auto firm's passenger car sales totaled 7,847 units.
Chrysler sold 34,135 passenger cars during the period.
For the year to date, domestic sales are up 1.7 percent. GM is up 1.1 percent, Ford, 5.3 percent. Chrysler is off 1.7 percent; AMC, 7.5 percent.
Of the 4,164,917 units sold, GM accounts for 56.1 percent; Ford, 28.7 percent; Chrysler, 13.1 percent; and AMC, 2 percent.
The auto industry had posted its best sales month in May, with GM and Ford setting records for the closing 10-day period.
A Ford spokesman attributed the continued strong sales to the popularity of small fuel-efficient cars in the marketplace.
"Domestic small cars are the dominant industry growth item, and we expect small cars to push our June sales above those of last year," said Gordon Mackenzie, Ford sales vice president.
Each of the four companies reported record truck sales for the June 1-10 period, up nearly 18 percent over the record set last year.