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LI Oct. car, truck registrations up 24.4%

The showroom at Smithtown Chevrolet is full of

The showroom at Smithtown Chevrolet is full of 2014 Chevys, including this Chevy Malibu. Chevrolets are currently the best-selling cars in the United States. (Dec. 12, 2013) Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

Long Islanders registered 24.4 percent more cars and trucks in October than a year earlier, when preparations for superstorm Sandy cut into vehicle sales.

While the storm made the year-over-year comparison with 2012 easier, October 2013's total registrations of 16,072 were higher than 2011's as well -- by 4.2 percent, according to the auto information provider R.L. Polk & Co.

Among major brands, Nissan had the biggest percentage increase in October, 47.7 percent over a year earlier, to 1,574 vehicles. Owner Alex Korchmar of Five Towns Nissan in Inwood credited the Altima midsize car and Rogue SUV for much of it. "They had huge promotions on them for financing and leasing, and there was a huge increase in those models," he said.

Ford's increase was the second largest, at 42.1 percent, and Chevrolet's was third at 33.6 percent. Regional Ford executives have attributed much of this year's strong performance to the Fusion midsize car, Escape SUV and F-Series pickup trucks.

Scott Brown, general manager of Robert Chevrolet in Hicksville, credited sales of the Equinox SUV and the Cruze and Malibu cars. "They're our bestsellers, and they've increased the most," he said.

Industry analysts and local dealers have attributed the sales gains this year to improved consumer confidence; low interest rates for car loans and leases; and an aged fleet as purchases were postponed during the recession. The average car on American roads is more than 11 years old -- the highest in recent memory.

Registrations of just one major brand, Hyundai, fell on Long Island in October from a year earlier -- by 3.6 percent to 916 vehicles. Hyundai sales nationally, which approximate new registrations, were up 6.5 percent in the month, according to the trade paper Automotive News, but even that lagged the 10.4 percent increase for the industry as a whole.

Chris Hopson, a senior auto analyst in the Lexington, Mass., office of the economic forecasting firm IHS Inc., attributed that to production problems in Korea and aging models. "Hyundai freshened its entire lineup between 2008 and 2010," he said. "Those vehicles are now at the end of their life cycles."

Year to date through October, Long Islanders registered 176,781 new vehicles, a 13.1 percent increase from a year earlier.

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