Autodata Corp. has reported that the total sales of cars and light trucks were unchanged at just over 838,000 compared with October of last year, but rose 12 percent from a gloomy September 2009. The results indicated that some consumers have started to spend again and the sputtering economy is beginning to pull out of trouble.
"It's ... a fairly stable kind of footing that the industry is getting under it," said Gary Dilts, senior vice president of global automotive operations for J.D. Power and Associates.
Last month's sales, if estimated for the whole year, rose to 10.5 million after falling to 9.2 million in September, the month after the government's Cash for Clunkers rebate ran out. Analysts said the statistics are good for an average weak October, but they're still far short of the 17 million annual rates from the late 1990s and early 2000s.
"Clearly we're seeing improvement in the economy and in the industry. It isn't huge, but it's a good sign given that Cash for Clunkers is over," said Mike DiGiovanni, General Motors Co.'s executive director of global market and industry analysis.
The leading winner among major carmakers was South Korea's Hyundai Motor Co., which saw sales skyrocket 49 percent to 31,005 vehicles, boosted by the Elantra small sedan. Japan's Nissan Motor Co. came second with a 5.6 percent gain, followed by GM at 4.7 percent, assisted by strong pickup truck sales, the performance of new models and the highest inducements in the industry. It was General Motor's first year-over-year monthly sales boost in 21 months.
Toyota Motor Corp. said its sales edged up less than a percent, while Honda sales were flat.
Ford Motor Co.'s sales rose 3 percent and it gain U.S. market share for the 12th time in 13 months as its critically acclaimed vehicles continue to grab buyers from competitors. Ford has benefited from consumer goodwill as it has not taken government bailout money or gone into bankruptcy protection, as General Motors and Chrysler did.
After months of roller-coaster results, the U.S. automobile industry has shown some steadiness hope this continues...