October Auto Sales Defy Shutdown

You'd think the shutdown this month would have put the emergency brakes on car sales, but it looks like volume will be hitting the checkered flag at full gun, say two major online research and shopping portals. forecasts that the market will deliver October sales of just under 1.3 million vehicles, an 8.2% increase from September this year, and a 12.7% increase from the month last year.

Although this shows the shutdown will have had no real effect on car sales, Edmunds conceded that if the shutdown had lasted a bit longer, it could well have tarnished a sterling year for the U.S. business. 

“It looks like the government shutdown ended just in the nick of time,” says Jessica Caldwell, a senior analyst at the Los Angeles firm. “The week-by-week data suggests that consumers started to get jittery by the middle of the month. But with the government back to work, most lost sales should be made up in the latter half of the month."



Some automakers, by predictions, won't have as stellar a month as others. The firm sees Chrysler sales dipping 2.2% versus last month, which would mean the Auburn Hills, Mich., automaker's share of the U.S. market will have receded 1.2 percentage points after it hit record share in September. But like every automaker, its year-over-year number will be up almost 11%. Ford and Toyota will be the biggest gainers versus last year: Edmunds predicts Ford will be up 15.5% and Toyota 15.2%. projects that GM will see a 15% increase in sales versus last month and a 10% increase versus last year. 

Kelley Blue Book concurs on fundamentals, predicting a slightly lower 11.7% industry-wide improvement versus last October. The firm points out that October sales volume benefits this year from having one more selling day than last year, and the fact that October 2012 numbers were suppressed by Hurricane Sandy’s impact on the East Coast. Like Edmunds, KBB sees Ford and Toyota getting the best of sales gains. 

KBB sees big increases in crossover sales in October -- with a 25% gain -- because of a raft of new models and fuel efficient engines. 

Compared to last October, the firm sees a 10.5% increase in mid-size car sales; a 13.2% increase in sales of compact; a 12.8% increase in full-size pickup truck sales; and a 14.6% increase in subcompact car sales. 

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