Su­per­storm boosts auto sales

Sandy de­layed some sales un­til Novem­ber, which might be best month since March ’08.

Austin American-Statesman - - BUSINESS -

DETROIT — Su­per­storm Sandy gave an ex­tra boost to al­ready strong U.S. auto sales last month, although car­mak­ers warned that un­cer­tainty over the “fis­cal cliff” could undo some of those gains.

Most ma­jor com­pa­nies, from Toy­ota to Chrysler, posted im­pres­sive in­creases from a year ear­lier. Only Gen­eral Mo­tors was left strug­gling to ex­plain its 3 per­cent sales gain and large in­ven­tory of un­sold trucks.

Amer­i­cans were al­ready will­ing to buy a new car or truck last month be­cause they’re more con­fi­dent in the econ­omy. Home val­ues are ris­ing, hir­ing is up and auto fi­nanc­ing is read­ily avail- able. Also, the av­er­age age of a ve­hi­cle on U.S. roads is ap­proach­ing a record 11 years, so many peo­ple are look­ing to re­place older cars.

Sandy boosted that de­mand. The storm added 20,000 to 30,000 sales in­dus­try­wide in Novem­ber, mostly from peo­ple who planned to buy cars dur­ing the Oc­to­ber storm but had to de­lay their pur­chases, Ford es­ti­mated. Peo­ple who need to re­place storm-dam­aged ve­hi­cles are ex­pected to drive sales for sev­eral more months. GM es­ti­mates that 50,000 to 100,000 ve­hi­cles will even­tu­ally need to be re­placed.

Novem­ber sales, when cal­cu­lated on an an­nual ba­sis, are likely to be 15 mil­lion or more, the high­est rate since March of 2008, ac­cord­ing to LMC Au­to­mo­tive, a Detroit-area con­sult­ing firm. Both GM and Chrysler pre­dicted Novem­ber

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