The monthly sales report for cars and trucks is a gold mine for the lover of automotive trivia. Every figure has a story to tell. Here are some of those stories.
THE UTES DID IT
How important is a sport-utility in the luxury class? For Cadillac in March, it was the difference between first place and third place.
Cadillac sold 29 percent more cars than Lincoln and 32 percent more than Mercedes-Benz. But Lincoln and Mercedes have utes. The full-line tallies for the month were: Lincoln, 16,314; Mercedes, 16,303; Cadillac, 16,245.
The cry at Cadillac is 'Wait till next year,' when Caddy will have the Escalade sport-utility borrowed from the GMC Denali.
NOT THIS YEAR, CHEVY
Chevrolet will have to wait at least another year before it can wrest the industry's sales lead from Ford. General Motors' pacesetter is falling further behind every month.
For the first quarter of 1998, Ford topped Chevrolet by 51,000 cars and 100,000 trucks.
Ford is chasing its 12th straight sales championship this year. But hang on: Before Ford broke through in 1987, Chevrolet had been the winner 37 times in 40 years. Put it another way: Ford had won three times since the end of World War II.
The Ford F-series and Chevrolet C/K pickups are so far ahead that there's really no race for the sales leadership, but a lively battle is brewing for third place.
In March, the Ford Explorer, Ford Taurus, Honda Accord, Dodge Ram pickup and Toyota Camry finished third through seventh, and they were separated by a meager 4,523 sales. Cars and trucks split the top 10 places for the month; each had five spots.
TOP CARS TRAIL TRUCKS
The Dodge Stratus, Ford Taurus and Chevrolet Cavalier were the best-selling cars for Chrysler Corp., Ford Motor Co. and General Motors for the first quarter of 1998. But none could claim top honors in its corporation. Leaders were the Dodge Ram pickup at Chrysler, the Ford F-series pickup at Ford and the Chevrolet C/K pickup at GM.
KIA MOVES AHEAD
It isn't yet sold in every corner of the United States, and its parent company in Korea is in the financial pits, but Kia is the fastest-growing marque on the U.S. market.
In the first quarter of this year, Kia dealers delivered 19,475 cars and sport-utilities, nearly 21/2 times as many as in the same period of 1997.
Other big gainers were Mercedes-Benz, up 64 percent; Lincoln, 63 percent; Suzuki, 36 percent; Volkswagen, 34 percent; Hyundai, 33 percent; and Lexus, 30 percent.
There were losers, too, in the first quarter. Infiniti was down 18 percent; Mercury, 17 percent; Toyota, 16 percent; Pontiac, 16 percent; and Saturn, 15 percent. Chrysler Corp.'s weak-winged Eagle, which dies at the end of the 1998 model year, was down 73 percent for the quarter.