With something to brag about at last, American Motors Corp. today published its own car sales report for the beginning of March, joining Detroit's Big 3 automakers, who regularly releases sales figures three times a month.
AMC has not published 10-day sales figures since January 1979, largely because "sales were lousy," according to company spokesman Jerry Sloan. Instead, analysts estimated AMC's sales performance for the 10-day reports.
The ban was scrapped today, thanks to the soaring sales of AMC's new front-wheel-drive Alliance passenger car, introduced in September.
"We've got something here,"said W. Paul Tippett, AMC chairman and chief executive officer. "We're selling as many Alliances as we can make," Tipped said.
AMC sold 4,500 cars in the first 10 days this month, a 96 percent increase over the 2,300 new cars it sold in the United States in early March 1982. Alliance cars accounted for 3,200 or 71 percent, of AMC's latest 10-day sales.
An estimated 59,850 Alliances have been sold in the United States and Canada since that time.
But Tippett said AMC is determined not to put all its eggs in Alliance's basket. "We don't want to be thought of as the Alliance car company. We've got to come out with more high-quality products," he said. "We don't want this thing to be one big splash, after which nothing follows for two or three more years.".
The AMC chairman said his company's failure to produce consistently newer and better products led to its past poor domestic performances.
"During the period of the '70s, AMC performed erratically, both financially and in the marketplace," said Tippett, who has held his present position since Jan. 15, 1982.
"We introduced a new product that might do pretty well, but then we would do nothing else for several years. We'd go up in sales for a little while and come back down because there was not a steady stream of products out there to support the company over a period of time," Tippett said.
Tippett said that AMC now is trying to develop "a more consistent product strategy," which he said will be demonstrated by 1984 model offerings of a new hatchback Alliance, and completely remodeled AMC Jeep.
The Alliance was designed by Renault of France, which owns 46.4 percent of AMC. The car is assembled at an AMC plant in Kenosha, Wis., and therein lies something of a problem.
The Alliance carries the Renault nameplate, often giving customers the impression that AMC has little or nothing to do with the car. Also, Tippett agreed that the Renault nameplate frequently leads to confusion about who actually runs AMC.
Tippett conceded that without Renault's initial purchase of 22 percent of AMC stock in October 1979, AMC probably would not have been able to put together the funding to produce the car that appears to be resulting in a rejuvenation of the American company. Tippett also credited Renault's purchase of an additional 24.4 percent of AMC stock in December 1980 with giving his company the extra financial muscle to come out with new 1984 and 1985 models.
"From a legal and technical viewpoint, Renault does have a controlling interest in the company. But the question is: 'Who runs the company?' And the answer to that is that we run it . . . we run it right here in Southfield," a Detroit suburb, Tippett said.
Renault "doesn't want to run AMC. They can't run it from Paris. They know that 5,000 miles is too far," Tippett said.
He said Renault's support of AMC's new product program "suggests that they're interested in American Motors as American Motors, and not in converting us into Franco-American Motors."