Business: Autos: Sales Down, Optimism Up

Chrysler gambles big on a new horizon

After a thundering 1977 model year, automobile executives are scrutinizing the latest sales figures with the anxiety and puzzlement of early-morning dockers timing the latest workout by an erratic race horse. Overall, the car industry's performance has been disappointing of late. Domestic sales dropped by 6.3% in the first ten days of December, the third decline in a row. General Motors sales were down by nearly 14% from last year's, while Chrysler and American Motors slumped by 8.4% and 29%, respectively.

Oddly, though, automen have seldom been...

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