DETROIT - Ford Motor Co. played the price game again with wide-ranging increases that touched almost every nameplate in its car and light-duty truck fleet.
And Chevrolet boosted the price of trucks, including the C/K full-sized pickups, the best-selling General Motors vehicles.
Also last week, Chrysler Corp. priced its new 1999 LHS and 300M sedans; Saab put stickers on the 1999 models in the 9-3 series that replace the 900; and Acura added a 3.5RL model.
All of the Ford cars and some of the Ford and Chevy trucks affected by the price increase carry customer rebates of $500 to $1,500 (see table on Page 65).
Aside from a $1,000 boost on the Lincoln Town Car Cartier, the price increases were moderate, ranging from $25 to $200 at Ford and $50 to $100 at Chevy.
At Ford and GM, the 1998 price-increase strategy seems to be 'small but frequent.' GM has adjusted prices 11 times since introduction last fall. Ford has had two increases in the past month, and the F-series pickups - the nation's best-selling vehicles - have figured in both.
Ford's latest increase averaged $73 when spread across the company's light-duty fleet on a sales-weighted basis. Automotive News estimates Ford prices have risen an average of $152, or 0.6 percent, since the end of the 1997 model year. Ford held the line on prices at 1998 introduction time; its entire increase is in the 'interim' category.
GM INCREASE IS $342
The most recent Chevrolet boosts added $14 to GM's average 1998-model increase, according to Automotive News. It brought GM's overall increase to $342, or 1.5 percent. GM did not hold the line at intro time. It boosted prices an average of $291 then and another $51 since then, an Automotive News analysis finds.
Ford's most recent increase took effect in late March, and involved every car nameplate except the Ford Escort ZX2, the brand-new Mercury Cougar and the soon-to-be-dropped Lincoln Mark VIII. Among trucks, only the Ford Expedition, the Mercury Villager and the recently introduced F-250 and F-350 Super-Duty pickups were spared.
Ford added $25 to $150 to the stickers of 35 of the 60 models in its F-150 and F-250 light-duty series. A month earlier, there was a $50 bump on all pickups in those lines. The $50 increase on Ranger 4x2 pickups matched the earlier boost.
The Ranger carries a customer rebate of $1,000. A $1,000 payback is also in effect for some Club Wagons and Econolines, which had sticker boosts of $50 to $125. Windstar minivans went up $100; the rebate is $1,500.
Increases on Ford and Mercury cars ranged from $80 to $200. Rebates on those cars range from $500 to $1,000.
Chevy's big C/K pickups went up $100 across the board, despite the fact that the C/K will be replaced by the new Silverado pickups for the 1999 model year. Price analysts suggest that Chevy may be trying to lessen the Silverado introductory increase by boosting the old C/K line now.
Five of the seven compact T10 four-wheel-drive pickups rose $50. The buyer rebate on the S10/T10 is $1,500 with a four-cylinder engine and $1,000 with a V-6.
Extended-wheelbase versions of the Chevrolet Venture passenger minivan climbed $100, and so did the Astro passenger minivans. The rebate on both is $1,000.
NEW MODELS PRICED
Chrysler Corp. priced its 1999 Chrysler LHS sedan at $28,995, and placed a tag of $28,895 on its new 300M four-door sedan. Those prices and all others in this article include the destination charge.
The LHS is $1,855 less than the 1997 model; there is no 1998 LHS. The 3000M revives Chrysler's 'alphabet cars,' a series of high-performance models offered from 1955-65. The LHS and 300M go on sale this spring. They are the high end of the Dodge Intrepid/Chrysler Concorde family.
Saab's 9.3 models range from $26,050 for the three-door hatchback to $42,050 for the SE convertible. Three of the five 9.3-series models are priced lower than the 900-series cars they replace.
Acura's newest is the 3.5RL Special Edition four-door sedan, priced at $42,435. It joins base 3.5RL at $41,635 and the base with premium package at $44,435.