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October is another strong month for U.S. auto sales

November 01, 2012|By Jerry Hirsch
  • A Chrysler Jeep dealership in Hollywood, Fla. Chrysler Group said its U.S. sales rose 10% to 126,185 vehicles in October compared to the same period a year earlier. It was Chrysler's best sales total since 2007.
A Chrysler Jeep dealership in Hollywood, Fla. Chrysler Group said its U.S.… (Joe Raedle, Getty Images )

Auto sales posted another good month in October, with business strong enough early in the month to overcome sales lost to Hurricane Sandy over the last week.

Chrysler Group said its U.S. sales rose 10% to 126,185 vehicles compared to the same period a year earlier. It was Chrysler’s best sales total since 2007.

General Motors Co. also reported its highest October sales since 2007, with deliveries up 5% to 195,764 vehicles.  Passenger car sales grew the fastest of any of auto segment.

“GM had a solid October in a month that was marked by a devastating national tragedy,” said Kurt McNeil, vice president, U.S. sales operations.  “All of us at GM are deeply saddened by the loss of life and the extensive damage caused by the storms, but we’re really encouraged by the national and local response, which will speed the recovery.”

Ford Motor Co. saw sales rise less than 1% to 168,456 for the month. The automaker’s passenger car business grew faster while sales of pickup trucks dipped slightly.

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“Fuel economy continues to be king and a key driver,” said Ken Czubay, Ford’s sales chief.  Hybrids were the fastest turning vehicles on dealer lots last month, he said.

Czubay said the industry believes few sales will be lost to the natural disaster that hit the East Coast this week. 

“They are postponed and come back relatively quickly,” he said. “There are a significant number of vehicles damaged by rising water and typically after the insurance companies come in people use that money to buy those new vehicles.” 

This could lead to stronger sales this month because the repurchasing happens quickly as people need cars for their jobs, he said.

On average, the last three days of October account for about 17% of the monthly sales and since only a portion of the country was affected by the storm, the hit to sales was probably about 30,000 vehicles, according to auto information company Edmunds.com.

Import brands also posted strong numbers in October.

Toyota Motor Corp. said its sales rose 16% to 155,242 vehicles last month.  The automaker is experiencing a rebound in sales from that were disrupted a year ago by inventory and production problems caused by the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

Volkswagen of America said its sales rose 22% to 34,311 vehicles. That represents VW’s best October since 1972. The brand has had a 36% year-to-date increase and in just 10 months of sales has posted its best full calendar year tally since 1973.

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