Automakers report sales jumps in October

Toyota sales rose almost 16 percent in October,

Toyota sales rose almost 16 percent in October, the automaker said Thursday. Above, a dealership in Centennial, Colo. (Oct. 22, 2006) (Credit: AP)

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Most major automakers reported Thursday that their sales increased 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. Nissan gets 27 percent of its U.S. sales from the Northeast.

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.

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.

The storm "is absolutely a hurt on us," said Al Castignetti, vice president of the Nissan division. As of Wednesday, 65 Nissan dealers in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut were closed due to lack of electricity, and they account for 40 percent of the region's sales, Castignetti said.

In past storms, sales were postponed, but they typically recover quickly after people's lives stabilized, said Ford U.S. sales chief Ken Czubay.

He also said there was a "significant number" of vehicles damaged by floodwaters, and that could also boost sales in November.

"Typically after the insurance companies come in, people use those proceeds to buy new vehicles," Czubay said.

Many automakers announced discounts in the storm-ravaged region, including Nissan, which is offering the same prices it gives to employees.

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