- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 2, 2002

DETROIT (AP) General Motors Corp. yesterday reported a 13 percent decline in January sales while sales slumped 12.6 percent at Ford Motor Co. Chrysler posted a more modest 9 percent decline last month from a year earlier.
GM's passenger car sales dropped 34 percent while light truck sales rose by 10 percent. The automaker said a big reduction in sales to rental-car fleets accounted for January's decline.
Ford passenger car sales plummeted 21.7 percent in January while light truck sales dropped 7.6 percent.
The Dearborn, Mich.-based automaker's foreign units did better. Land Rover sales soared by 133 percent, Jaguar saw an 88 percent increase and Volvo sold one more vehicle than it did during January a year ago.
Despite the decline, Ford sales analyst George Pipas told reporters and financial analysts during a conference call that the company raised its estimate for total industry sales during 2002 by about 500,000 units to about 16 million vehicles, including about 300,000 heavy trucks.
Mr. Pipas said the automaker raised its expectations based on increasing consumer confidence and the belief the economy is rebounding.
The Chrysler Group of DaimlerChrysler AG "would have liked to start off the year at a higher level," said Gary Dilts, senior vice president of sales, but he added "we are in an intensely competitive market and have developed a strategy for all three brands to regain their momentum quickly."
Japanese automaker Nissan Motor Sales Corp. reported an 8 percent increase in the sales of its cars and trucks over January 2001 powered by a strong performance by the restyled Altima and the Xterra sport utility vehicle.
The new Altima saw its best January ever with a 20.3 percent increase in sales over January of last year and sales of the Xterra rose 19.2 percent.
The automaker's Nissan division saw a 9.6 percent increase while its luxury Infiniti unit posted a 5.9 percent decline.
Subaru of America Inc. reported its 11th consecutive month of year-over-year sales increases.
Subaru sales were 1.8 percent higher in January than a year earlier. Sales of Impreza sedans, wagons and coupes shot up 95 percent from a year ago.
Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America Inc. reported its second-best January on record, posting a 20 percent sales increase over January 2001.
German automaker Volkswagen AG saw its U.S. sales rise by 6 percent from January 2001 led by a 65.2 percent increase in sales of its Passat, a January record.
Audi of America Inc. reported a 2.5 percent increase in sales.
BMW of North America Inc. reported a 16 percent rise in sales, its best January ever, but Porsche Cars North America Inc. saw a 27.5 percent decrease from a year ago.

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