|GM's U.S. retail sales (not counting fleet sales); % change, Sept. 2001 vs. Sept. 2000|
|Total month||1.3% to 314,295|
|Source: General Motors|
The result was that U.S. light-vehicle sales fell 12.5 percent overall from a strong year-ago month, to just under 1.3 million.
That was worse than the drop in 2001 sales year to date - down 5.7 percent to 12.8 million after nine months - but better than the outlook was at mid-month. According to J.D. Power and Associates, sales bottomed out Sept. 14, when they were off 42 percent compared with pre-attack levels.
Zero interest loans and the showroom traffic they generated turned that around. Not counting fleet sales, General Motors' retail sales in the last 10 days of September picked up 20 percent compared with the year-ago period, said Paul Ballew, GM's general director of global market and industry analysis.
"It was a very strange month, as one would expect," he said.
The end of September also marked the end of the traditional model year for 2001 models. For the model year, sales fell 5.7 percent to 16.6 million, matching the falloff for the 2001 calendar year to date.
Some September highlights:
Some of the late September sales momentum probably will carry into October.
Zero interest and low interest loans offered by the Big 3 are scheduled to continue through October.
Beyond that, the usual indicators point in contrary directions. Analysts said that interest rate cuts, incentives and stable gasoline prices could contribute to a recovery. But falling consumer confidence, corporate layoffs and the likelihood of a recession contradict that.