Most automakers report sales jumps despite storm
By TOM KRISHER The Associated Press November 1, 2012 6:56PM
In this Oct. 5, 2012, photo, a sunset is reflected in a Honda vehicle in Chicago. Major automakers are reporting Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012, that sales increased for October despite losing three days of business to the punishing rain and wind from superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Updated: December 3, 2012 6:45AM
DETROIT — Most major automakers reported sales increases in October despite losing at least three days of business to the punishing rain and wind from superstorm Sandy.
Toyota said its sales rose almost 16 percent for the month, while Volkswagen reported another strong month with sales up 22 percent. Honda sales slowed from double-digit growth earlier in the year to 8.8 percent, while Chrysler sales rose 10 percent. General Motors was up 5 percent and Ford rose slightly.
Of major automakers, only Nissan reported a decrease, 3.2 percent, as Sandy pounded the Northeast, the company’s top-performing region.
Yet the results show that Americans continue to buy new cars and trucks at a strong pace. Chrysler predicted an annual sales rate of 14.7 million for the U.S. industry in October, making it one of the year’s strongest months. Auto sales ran at an annual rate of 14.3 million through September.
Chrysler said it sold 126,000 cars and trucks for the month, led by the Ram pickup, which was up 20 percent, and the Dodge Caravan van, which saw sales rise 49 percent.
At Ford, sales increased only 0.4 percent to 168,000 cars and trucks. The company said F-Series pickup trucks, the most popular vehicle in the nation, had their best October in eight years.
At GM, sales rose to nearly 196,000 vehicles for the month, led by the Cruze and Sonic small cars. Cruze sales were up 34 percent, while Sonic sales rose 43 percent.
At Nissan, the company said October ended on a down note with Sandy causing major disruption in an area where it has 225 dealers. The company’s Nissan and Infiniti brands sold nearly 80,000 cars and trucks, down from over 82,000 a year earlier.
Industry analysts were expecting an annual sales rate in October of 14.7 million to 14.9 million, but that was before Sandy hit Monday.
Industry analysts estimated that the storm cut U.S. sales by about 20,000 cars and trucks in October as buyers hunkered down for the storm. But the Nissan brand, which gets 27 percent of its U.S. sales from the Northeast, was hit particularly hard.
U.S. sales have been recovering from a 30-year low of 10.4 million in 2009 when credit froze, unemployment leaped and few people were buying cars. But the numbers are still far short of the recent peak of around 17 million in 2005. Analysts predict the country could reach 15 million in sales next year, which they consider about normal.
Auto sales have been a bright spot in the U.S. economy all year, staying relatively strong despite a mixture of good and bad economic news.