c.2013 New York Times News Service
c.2013 New York Times News Service
DETROIT — The tempo for new-car sales in the United States accelerated after the 16-day partial government shutdown, leading each of the domestic automakers Friday to report double-digit sales gains in October and keeping the industry on track for its best sales total in six years.
General Motors Co., the nation’s largest automaker, led the gains, with sales up 16 percent to 226,402. Ford Motor Co. said its sales rose 14 percent to 191,985 vehicles. Chrysler’s 11 percent gain, with 140,083 cars and trucks sold, extended the automaker’s streak to 43 months of year-over-year sales gains and represented the company’s best October sales record since 2007.
Although the sales gains looked especially strong compared with a weak October 2012, when Hurricane Sandy curtailed new-vehicle sales along parts of the East Coast, an underlying industrywide strength is evident, according to Michelle Krebs, senior analyst at the industry researcher Edmunds.com.
“The fundamentals of an aging fleet and widely available, relatively cheap credit continue to unleash pent-up demand,” Krebs said.
New-car prices in October rose 1.2 percent from the previous month but fell 0.2 percent compared with October 2012, according to Kelley Blue Book. The average industrywide transaction price was $32,184.
Each of GM’s brands posted double-digit sales gains, led by a 31 percent surge for Buick. GMC and Chevrolet sales rose 16 percent and 15 percent, while sales were up 10 percent for Cadillac.
“No one product or segment drove our results,” said Kurt McNeil, GM’s vice president for U.S. sales operations. “We had strong sales in every segment where we compete.”
Ford reported its best October retail sales month since 2004. Retail sales were up 15 percent to 142,487 vehicles, despite a “lumpy” sales pace, said John Felice, Ford’s vice president for U.S. sales, marketing and service.
It’s difficult to calculate how much the government shutdown in early October affected sales, Felice said in a conference call Friday. “But things seemed to pick up in the final two weeks.”
Sales of Ford’s Lincoln brand rose 38 percent because of an 80 percent surge in sales (to 2,909) for the all-new Lincoln MKZ; it was Lincoln’s best-ever October for retail sales. Gains for the Ford brand were fueled by a 71 percent rise of Fusion midsize sedan sales.
Chrysler’s October sales were led by a 22 percent gain for its Ram Truck brand. The automaker’s Dodge brand had sales rise 12 percent on the strength of the Dodge Journey crossover, Dodge Dart compact car and Dodge Challenger. It was the 29th consecutive month of year-over-year sales gains for the Dodge brand, for the best October since 2005.
Sales of the automaker’s Jeep brand rose 7 percent, and its Chrysler brand rose 6 percent. The Fiat brand fell 1 percent.
Sales were not as strong for at least one European and Japanese automaker reporting sales early Friday. Volkswagen’s sales fell 18 percent in October, as it winds down old models and awaits new ones, and it lacks the inventory to capitalize on the boom in truck and small SUVs, according to Krebs.
Toyota’s sales increased 9 percent to 168,976 cars and trucks, but it lost market share for the first time since May.
“Consumers showed resiliency in October with steady auto sales despite headwinds caused by the government shutdown,” Bill Fay, Toyota’s general manager and group vice president, said in a statement. “The growth in the auto industry continues to play a leading role in the economic recovery, and Toyota is on track for a strong close to the year.”
Nissan, though, posted strong gains. Sales for both the Nissan brand and Infiniti rose 14 percent to 91,108 vehicles.
“The Washington shutdown was not enough to shut down our sales momentum,” Fred Diaz, divisional vice president for sales, marketing, service and parts for Nissan U.S.A., said in a statement.