CHICAGO Sales by the top seven U.S. automakers
totaled 925,028 light vehicles in October, a 5.8-percent
improvement from a year earlier but a 9-percent slide from
1,016,420 vehicles in September.
Year-to-date sales topped 10.1 million vehicles, up 11.4
percent from the first nine months of 2011.
Some automakers suggested they saw a loss in sales during
the last week of October due to Hurricane Sandy, which cut a
path of destruction up the East Coast.
"We estimate Hurricane Sandy accounted for 300,000 lost
retail sales (industrywide) in October," Ford Motor Co.s
U.S. sales analyst, Erich Merkle, said during a conference call
Thursday. Nonetheless, the industry is running at a seasonally
adjusted annual sales rate of 14.7 million vehicles and
"remains at forecast," he said.
"What we have learned historically is that sales (are)
postponed after a tragedy then rebound when households
stabilize," said Ken Czubay, Fords vice president of U.S.
marketing, sales and service. "Many vehicles were partially or
totally damaged by flood waters. Insurance payouts will allow
consumers to buy new vehicles. I expect well see a lot of
that. That should start in November."
But it may take some time for auto dealers themselves to
recover. "Hurricane Sandy packed a punch that has left many
dealers hanging out to dry," said Mark Schienberg, president of
the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association, which
represents nearly 400 dealerships. He estimated that more than
60 percent of members were affected by the storm, "with
problems ranging from power outages, facility and/or vehicle
damage, and flooding." The association called on automakers to
provide assistance to dealers, who in many cases have seen
inventories on their lots wiped out due to flooding and wind
"(Fords credit division) is helping consumers with
(payment) extensions (while) parts and vehicle operations are
helping to get dealers back in business," Czubay said. "We are
using all available resources to make that happen."
Automakers also are donating vehicles toward the cleanup
effort and money for assistance. Chevrolet, for example, has
donated 50 Silverado pickup trucks and Express cargo vans to
the American Red Cross for use in relief and recovery efforts,
while other automakers said they have made donations to the
American Red Cross.
Meanwhile, Toyota Motor Co. said it will offer payment
relief options to vehicle owners in 13 states and the District
of Columbia who become delinquent due to circumstances related
to the storm.
"Despite the impact of Sandy, we look for the market to
remain strong in the months ahead," Bob Carter, Toyota senior
vice president of automotive operations, said in a