U.S. car sales last month rose at an annualized rate of 14.4 million, enough to put the industry on track for a big gain over last year's level.
October's gains fell short of expectations for sales at an annualized rate of 14.7 million vehicles, but came despite Hurricane Sandy hammering East Coast sales during the last three days of the month. The so-called superstorm chopped sales an estimated 25,000, the Wall Street Journal said.
Analysts expect the industry to book full-year sales of 14.5 million to 14.7 million. Last year U.S. new-car sales reached 12.78 million, according to Automotive News.
The biggtest percentage gain among domestic carmakers was Chrysler Group LLC, a subsidiary of Italian company Fiat S.p.A. (Milan: F), which reported Thursday that October car sales rose 10 percent to 126,185, as U.S. consumers were drawn to ideal financing options and the need to replace aging vehicles. Edmunds had forecast 13 percent growth in October for Chrysler. The company said it was the best September since 2007, prior to the mortgage meltdown that sent the country into recession.
The No. 3 U.S. Carmaker saw gains sales for its Dodge, Ram Truck and Chrysler brands. Fiat sale also gained, but Jeep sale declined 4.8 percent. Dodge exhibited the strongest growth at 20 percent. Car sales grew 18 percent while truck sales were up 7.1 percent.
General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) reported a 4.7 percent gain on strong demand for its Cadillac and Buick models. The No. 1 U.S. carmaker sold 195,764 vehicles, up from 186,895 a year earlier and 6.9 percent below September's level.
Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) said last month's car sales edged up slightly, by 0.4 percent, to 168,456, led by sales of its utility vehicles and despite a decline in truck sales, but last month’s sales figures – which were released only two days after the Detroit auto giant released a better-than-expected third quarter performance – were considerably lower than the 3.2 percent forecast by Edmunds, according to Dow Jones Newswires.
The Ford brand managed a small year-over-year gain of 1 percent, but sales of its luxury Lincoln brand saw a 15.4 percent drop. The F-Series pickup continued to be the company’s most popular
The biggest gainer internationally was Volkswagen of America, which increased October sales in the U.S. by 22 percent to 34,311 vehicles, making it the best October for the German automaker in 40 years. Year-to-date VW has achieved a 36 percent increase in U.S. sales.
Toyota Motor said its October sales jumped 16 percent to 155,242, while fellow Japanese carmaker Honda Motor Co. said U.S. sales last month climbed 8.8 percent to 106,973 vehicles.