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US automotive sales accelerate in October

Keywords: Tags  auto sales, Ford, Nissan, Honda, Toyota, Hyundai, William Fay, Emily Morris John Mendel

CHICAGO — Vehicle sales by the top seven U.S. automakers approached 1.03 million units last month, a 10.9-percent jump from the same month in 2012 and 7.3 percent higher than September levels, although October had two additional selling days.

The biggest gainers, with double-digit increases, were General Motors Co., Detroit; Ford Motor Co., Dearborn, Mich.; and U.S. operations of Japan’s Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.

Fred Diaz, vice president of sales, marketing, service and parts for Nissan U.S.A., said the company’s record October performance "demonstrates that a Washington shutdown was not enough to shut down our sales momentum," and he expects sales growth through the end of 2013.

"Consumers showed resiliency in October with steady auto sales despite headwinds caused by the government shutdown," according to William Fay, division group vice president and general manager of Toyota Motor Sales (TMS) U.S.A. Inc., Torrance, Calif. "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."

Economic conditions continue to improve at a modest pace, particularly manufacturing and housing, Emily Kolinski Morris, senior economist at Ford, said during the company’s Nov. 1 sales call.

"Despite consumer uneasiness early in the month, real demand remains strong across the Honda brand," John Mendel, executive vice president of sales at Torrance-based American Honda Motor Co. Inc., said in a statement. "We anticipate sales will continue to be hot even as the weather cools down heading into winter."

For the first eight months of the year, the top seven producers of passenger cars and light trucks sold nearly 11.2 million units, up 8.2 percent from the same year-ago period. The three automakers with the most significant year-on-year gains were Ford, Auburn Hills, Mich.-based Chrysler Group LLC and American Honda.

"October was a bit of a roller coaster ride for the entire automotive sector, so we feel pretty good about exceeding prior-year sales results and posting our best-ever October performance," according to David Zuchowski, executive vice president of national sales at Hyundai Motor America, Monroe Township, N.J. "We expect continued economic and political stabilization throughout the final two months of 2013, which should ease uncertainty ... and restore a robust growth curve for new vehicle sales."

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