GM, Ford Sales Up; Chrysler's Down

General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. on Monday reported higher vehicle sales in November as compared with November 2000, but the Chrysler arm of DaimlerChrysler AG reported a decline for the month.

GM reported its U.S. vehicle sales were up 13.2 percent in November versus the year-ago period, powered by a 36-percent jump in light truck sales. GM's passenger car sales, however, were nearly 11 percent lower than those during November a year ago. 

GM's top sales analyst said Monday that the company's no-interest finance promotion continued to prove effective. 

"The Keep America Rolling program is still boosting sales in November but were down from October," Paul Ballew, GM executive director for market and industry analysis, said during a conference call with reporters and financial analysts. 

Ballew said the industrywide sales pace was robust enough to record the third-best year on record, selling about 17.1 million vehicles by year's end. 

Meanwhile Ford reported its U.S. sales in November rose by 5 percent over November 2000, but year-to-date sales still are 6.6 percent below those for the first 11 months of last year. 

The world's No. 2 automaker said its F-Series pickup trucks, Escape sport utility vehicle and Windstar minivan all posted record November sales. 

Ford passenger car sales were up 1.8 percent last month over November 2000, while truck sales rose 6.6 percent. 

The sales figures were released Monday just before Ford announced a series of cost-cutting measures. 

Ford said it was eliminating the second shift at its Edison, N.J., assembly plant and eliminating matching contributions on salaried employees' 401(k) plans for an indefinite period of time. 

Zero-percent finance offers have been credited with the torrid sales pace in October that resulted in a 24 percent jump in vehicle sales industrywide over October 2000, though it's unclear how much that will affect automakers' profits. 

GM kicked off the zero-percent finance wars on Sept. 20 as a way to revive flagging sales in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terror attacks. Ford and the Chrysler arm of DaimlerChrysler AG followed suit within days. 

The Chrysler arm of DaimlerChrysler AG said its total vehicle sales were 5.8 percent lower than those during November 2000, while they were off 11 percent for the year-to-date. 

However, sales of its minivans, Chrysler PT Cruiser and Jeep Liberty were strong for the month. 

Elsewhere, Japanese automaker Mitsubishi Motors Corp. reported its best U.S. sales month in history with total vehicle sales rising 27 percent above those during November 2000. 

U.S. sales for Honda Motor Co. were up 11.5 percent from November 2000 setting a record for the month. 

Honda's strong sales month was powered by a 24-percent jump in light truck sales led by the redesigned CR-V which saw its sales soar by 57.6 percent. 

German automaker Volkswagen AG reported its best November sales in 28 years with a 3.2 percent increase over November 2000. The Volkswagen Passat set a November sales record besting sales during November of last year by 38.9 percent. 

Audi of America Inc. reported its U.S. sales slipped 4.6 percent from November, 2000, but sales for the German automaker are up 4.3 percent for the year as compared with the first eleven months of 2000. 

Porsche Cars North America said its U.S. sales declined 3.3 percent in November from November 2000, but are up 1.8 percent for the year-to-date from the first 11 months of last year. 

Porsche sales were highlighted by an 11-percent jump in sales of its redesigned and upgraded 911 Carrera, the best sales November ever for the car.