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Chrysler, a driving force in sales

Sales at Chrysler rose 10 per cent last month, while Ford sales increased slightly as both automakers reported decent months despite Superstorm Sandy washing out three days of business on the East Coast.

Chrysler said it sold 126,000 cars and trucks for the month, led by the Ram pickup, which was up 20 per cent, and the Dodge Caravan van, which saw sales rise 49 per cent.

At Ford, sales were up only 0.4 per cent to 168,000 cars and trucks. The company said F-Series pickup trucks, the most popular vehicle in the nation, had their best October in eight years with sales up 8 per cent to just over 56,000.

The results show that Americans continue to buy new cars and trucks at a strong pace. Chrysler predicted an annual sales rate of 14.7 million for the U.S. industry in October, making it one of the year's strongest months. Auto sales ran at an annual rate of 14.3 million through September.

Industry analysts were expecting an annual sales rate in October of 14.7 to 14.9 million, but that was before Sandy hit Monday.

The storm could cut sales by 1 to 3 per cent, or about 20,000 vehicles, said Jeff Schuster, senior vice-president of forecasting for LMC Automotive, an industry consulting firm. Schuster said any lost sales would likely shift to November, boosting totals for that month.

But Chrysler U.S. sales chief Reid Bigland, who doubles as head of the Dodge brand, said in a statement that the company posted its 31st straight month of year-over-year sales growth even with the Hurricane. Chrysler has revamped nearly all of its models in an effort to boost sales.

LMC predicts that all automakers sold about 1.1 million vehicles during October, up 11 per cent from a year ago as the industry continues its slow recovery from the Great Recession.

Auto sales have been a bright spot in the U.S. economy all year, staying relatively strong despite a mixture of good and bad economic news.

The Canadian Press

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