GM Leads Mixed Auto Sales

General Motors ( GM) posted strong U.S. truck and car sales in February, while rivals Ford Motor ( F ) and DaimlerChrysler ( DCX ) both sold fewer cars than in the year-ago period.

GM's total sales rose 6% to 353,117 from a year ago. Car sales increased 9% to 157,011 units, while truck sales were up 4% to 196,106 vehicles.The sales gain were fairly broad-based.

The Chrysler unit's U.S. sales rose 1% to 172,647 units, compared with February 2003. Car sales fell 8% to 35,400, while truck sales jumped 18% to 137,247.

Ford's overall U.S. sales fell 2.4% from a year ago, to 261,694 vehicles. Sales of trucks rose 4.3% to 175,884, while car sales plunged 14% to 85,810. Sales to fleet customers were down 11%, reflecting the company's "decision to reduce sales to daily rental customers."

Ford also outlined it production plans for the current and next quarters. The company plans to build 1,015,000 vehicles in the first quarter of 2004, 15,000 less than the year-ago period, and 955,000 vehicles in the second quarter, which is 53,000 less than a year ago.

GM's productions plans call for 1.35 million vehicles in the first quarter, down from 1.45 million in the year-ago period, and for 1.38 units in the second quarter, virtually the same as last year.

Chrysler did not offer any production plans in its news release.

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