• US auto sales zoom amid govt shutdown

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    CHICAGO: The US auto industry extended its steady gains in October despite economic uncertainty caused by a government shutdown.

    Total industry sales rose 11 percent in October while the sales pace came in at an adjusted, annualized rate of 15.2 million vehicles. That was the weakest pace since April, but it remained well above the historic lows posted in the lengthy recession which followed the 2008 financial crisis, according to Autodata.

    “Pent-up demand remains a powerful driver of new-car activity, and it should continue for the rest of the year and well into 2014,” said Karl Brauer, an auto analyst with Kelley Blue Book.

    General Motors, Ford and Chrysler posted double-digit rises from October 2012 sales while results at Toyota and Honda grew more modestly. Volkswagen bucked the trend with a double-digit dive.

    Weekly data suggested that consumers “started to get jittery” toward the end of the October 1-to-16 partial federal government shutdown over a budget impasse, which saw hundreds of thousands of federal employees laid off with no certainty of being paid, said Edmunds analyst Jessica Caldwell. But sales soon recovered when the government got back to work on October 17 and back pay was assured.

    GM’s sales rose 16 percent to 226,402 vehicles in October and were also up 16 percent for the year to date.

    Ford posted its best October retail sales since 2004 while total sales, which include fleet sales, rose 14 percent to 191,985 vehicles. Its sales for the first 10 months of the year were up 12 percent.

    Chrysler’s sales rose 11 percent to 140,083 vehicles in its best October performance since 2007. The third-largest US carmaker has now posted 43 consecutive months of sales gains and its sales are up 9 percent for the year to date.

    Toyota’s sales rose 9 percent to 168,976 vehicles in October and were up 8 percent for the year to date. Honda’s sales rose 7 percent to 114,538 vehicles in October and were up 9 percent for the year to date.

    Nissan sales jumped 14 percent to 91,018 vehicles in October and were up 11 percent for the year to date for Japan’s number-two carmaker. Volkswagen saw sales drop 18 percent in October to 28,129 vehicles, settling into what it described as a “new plateau.”

    AFP

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