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October Car Sales Strong, Despite The Storm

DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – Car companies posted strong sales in October, but those sales were impacted by “Super Storm” Sandy, which still has dealerships closed in the parts of the eastern U.S.

“We definitely saw a downturn, given what we’re dealing with,” said GM Sales Operations Manager Kurt McNeil. “We have a number of our dealerships that are still without power.”

Still, strong sales of small cars pushed GM sales up 5 percent. Ford sales were flat. Chrysler sales were up 10 percent.

“Despite the impact it (Sandy) had on some of our east coast dealerships, we still managed to extend our streak of year-over-year sales increases to 31 consecutive months,” said Chrysler spokesman Ralph Kisiel.

Analysts estimate that between 20,000 and 30,000 sales were lost in October because of the storm. Most of those sales are expected to be made up in November and December. The industry could even get some extra sales as people replace cars damaged by the storm.

“We think that despite the lower than expected sales, due to Sandy, the months sales were still at a healthy pace, showing that consumer demand is strong,” said Jesse Toprak of Truecar.com.

Toyota was expected to be a strong performer, as it had solid inventories and strong incentives, and did post a 16 percent sales increase.  Honda sales were up 9 percent.

GM’s Kurt McNeil says the overall car sales environment remains very strong.

“We view it as very strong fundamentals,” he said. “Housing, consumer credit…we’re starting to see an upturn in consumer sentiment.”

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