Chrysler said today U.S. sales of its cars and trucks increased 10% in October and Ford's sales increased 0.4% even as Hurricane Sandy rocked the East Coast during the final four days of the month.
Overall industry sales were expected to increase at least 11% in October to about 1.13 million units, according to three leading forecasting firms.
But that was before Hurricane Sandy rocked the Northeast earlier this week. The hurricane caused thousands of auto dealers to close their doors for several days.
That didn't stop the Auburn Hills automaker from achieving sales increases for each of its brands except for Jeep. In October, sales increased 89% for Fiat, 20% for Dodge, 17% for Ram, and 5% for Chrysler as sales for Jeep declined 5%.
The company's performance was aided by sales of the new Dodge Dart compact car and Ram 1500 pickup and the Dodge Caravan.
Chrysler sold 5,455 Darts in October, sales of the Ram pickup increased 20% to 25,222 and sales of the Caravan increased 49% to 10,603.
"In spite of Hurricane Sandy, Chrysler Group posted its best October sales since 2007 and we achieved our 31st-consecutive month of year-over-year sales growth," Reid Bigland, Chrysler's head of U.S. sales said in a statement.
For Ford, the Focus compact car and its F-Series pickups were the stars. Sales of the Focus increased 47.9% and sales of F-Series increased 7.6%. Ford said it was the best October results for F-Series since 2004.
All other automakers are expected to report October sales today.
Edmunds.com expects that strong demand for the redesigned Honda Accord and Nissan Altima will propel the Japanese manufacturers to record October sales in the U.S.
Toyota also is expected to post another big increase, because the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami was still cramping the automaker's production capacity at this point last year.
Edmunds.com Vice Chairman Jeremy Anwyl said last week he expects October's industry sales will come close to matching the industry's strong sales pace in September when automakers sold 1.02 million cars and trucks.
Increasing consumer confidence, more lenient lending terms and pent-up demand for new cars continue to help the automotive industry outperform the overall economy.
"New car sales are on automatic pilot. October was a robust start to fourth-quarter sales with most manufacturers posting double digit gains while continuing to lower incentives spending," said Jesse Toprak, senior analyst at TrueCar.com. "We expect this recovery momentum to continue into the next year, with 2013 sales reaching 15.5 million units."
Automotive forecasting firm LMC Automotive now expects the U.S. industry will sell a total of 14.4 million cars and trucks this year.
"It is becoming clear that the U.S. automotive market is finally approaching a stage of a more natural level of demand, which has been accelerated by increasing consumer confidence and a need to replace aging vehicles," Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting at LMC Automotive said in a report last week.
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