Chrysler Corp. Chairman Lee Iacocca forecast today that his company's car sales would be "booming" for the next several days as a highly successful rebate program winds down.
After that, Chrysler "will slug it out without rebates" as the financially troubled auto manufacturer begins what is a projected road to recovery with 1980 models going on sale Oct. 12, he told about 75 newspaper company executives and reporters today.
In 23 selling days of the $400 rebate program, from Aug. 21 through Sept. 20, Dodge and Chrysler-Plymouth dealers sold almost 150,000 vehicles -- 113,000 of them cars. In the previous 26 selling days before rebates were installed to boost sales, Chrysler Corp. dealers had sold just 74,500 vehicles.
As a result, huge inventories of Chrysler autos and trucks that have crowded parking lots around this city have been reduced substantially. Factory inventories fell by 55,000 to 25,000 units. Truck sales also have rebounded by 66 percent, with 37,000 units sold in the recent 26 days.
It was a record sales performance for Chrysler, where Iacocca was installed last week as chairman and chief executive after less than a year with the company.
In an unprecedented advance showing today of future vehicle models through the mid-1980s, Iacocca sought to convince the newspaper executives that Chrysler's new five-year recovery plan will work and that the company will survive.
Today's meeting was planned in just 10 days after Chrysler representatives contacted the American Newspaper Publishers Association and suggested the two-hour presentation.
Joining Iacocca was the company's new president, Paul Bergmoser, and the rest of the company's corporate leadership. They showed new 1980 model cars as well as 1981 compacts that are expected to give the company a major market thrust starting in a year. Also on display was a 1981-model two-door Chrysler Imperial, marking a re-entry into the luxury market.
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Iacocca emphasized that the Carter to $1.2 billion of government-guaranteed loans to help the company survive over the next two years.