Buyers come roaring back after government shutdown

Buyers come roaring back after government shutdown

Judging by October sales, earlier fears that the recent government shutdown would slice auto sales by as much as 10 percent appear unfounded. Indeed, sales were up 10 percent from last October and up 8 percent for the year. The seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) is 15.2 million, which is lower than many had earlier forecasted, but well above the 14.3 million new vehicle sales projected a year ago.

What about the Washington area, closely affected as it was by the shutdown? Initial signs look good. Bill Fay, group vice president and general manager of Toyota division, said sales gained momentum as the month progressed, especially in the Washington area, reports the Detroit News. Nationwide, Toyotas sales were up 8.8 percent from a year ago.

The growth in the auto industry continues to play a leading role in the economic recovery, said Fay.

Kevin Farrish, president of Farrish of Fairfax, told Automotive News, Since things got back to business as usual, we saw a spike in sales. Whatever we lost, I think we made it up.

The Detroit Three each saw big gains – 16 percent for General Motors, 14 percent for Ford and 11 percent for Chrysler. Nissan North American and Hyundai Motor America both set October records. Honda sales were up 7 percent and Nissan sales jumped 14 percent, pushed by strong sales of its SUVs and crossovers. Most brands saw sales rise from a year ago, with the exception of Volkswagen, Kia, Volvo and Mini.

Average transaction prices rose to near-record levels, said Jesse Toprak, senior analyst for TrueCar. Consumers are back buying cars not just because they need them, but also because they want them, he told the Detroit News.

The combination of pent-up demand, low interest rates and available consumer credit pushed up overall demand, and lower gas prices pushed many buyers into SUVs and pickups. That preference helped the Detroit Three, which are again focused on SUVs. Sales of GMs full-size SUVs jumped 44 percent from a year ago. Ford saw its best retail sales for the month since 2004, and the F-Series was again the bestselling vehicle in the nation.

The 10 best selling vehicles in October, after the F-Series were: Chevrolet Silverado, Ram Pickup, Toyota Camry, Honda Civic, Honda Accord, Toyota Corolla/Matrix, Honda CR-V, Ford Escape and Nissan Altima. Note that the top three are trucks.

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