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DaimlerChrysler's U.S. sales drop 1.8 per cent in June

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Chrysler Group's passenger vehicle sales, which include the Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge brands, fell 1.4 per cent compared with June 2006, while Mercedes sales fell 5.8 per cent during the same period.

Detailed breakdowns from DaimlerChrysler, which sold a total of 202,936 vehicles in the U.S. last month, were expected later in the day.

DaimlerChrysler said Chrysler car sales were up 55 per cent because of an ad campaign highlighting fuel efficiency of its models. The company did not break out truck sales, which offset the gain.

Jeep brand sales were up 19 per cent, led by the new four-door Wrangler, the company said.

Auto sales statistics show the market was shifting toward gas-thrifty compacts in May in record numbers, and some analysts were expecting that to continue in June with $3-a-gallon gas. Because of the continued homebuilding slump, truck sales were expected to be down overall in June.

The small-car trend was expected to hurt the Detroit Three, which rely more on sport utility vehicles and trucks for sales. Asian and some European automakers have increased incentives on small cars, which also makes them more attractive.

Automotive website Edmunds.com estimated Tuesday that the average U.S. automaker incentive was $2,483 per vehicle in June, up 3.9 per cent from May and down 5.1 per cent from June of last year. Of General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co., Chrysler, Honda Motor Co., Nissan Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp., Edmunds said only Honda and Toyota had higher incentives than they did during the same time last year.

The Associated Press reports unadjusted figures, calculating the percentage change in the total number of vehicles sold in one month compared with the same month a year earlier. Some automakers report percentages adjusted for sales days, which last month was 27 and in June 2006 was 26.

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AP Auto Writer Tom Krisher contributed to this report.

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On the Net:

DaimlerChrysler AG: http://www.daimlerchrysler.com

Ford Motor Co.: http://www.ford.com

General Motors Corp.: http://www.gm.com

Honda Motor Co.: http://www.honda.com

Nissan Motor Co.: http://www.nissanusa.com

Toyota Motor Corp.: http://www.toyota.com

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DaimlerChrysler's U.S. sales drop 1.8 per cent in June
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