Hurricane Harvey weakens US auto sales in August
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Just when most analysts expected August will bring the first net increase of auto sales in the U.S. market, Hurricane Harvey took its toll and slowed purchases towards the end of the month.
Sales of new cars and light trucks totaled 16.14 million at a seasonally adjusted annual rate in the eighth month of the year, down 2% compared to the 17.22 million in August 2016, according to Autodata Corp.
Harvey hurt demand in the Houston area — the ninth-largest vehicle market in the nation — cutting sales of new cars and trucks by an estimated 20,000 vehicles, according to analysis firm LMC Automotive.
But analysts expect sales to increase now that people with damaged cars will need to replace them quickly. In the month following Superstorm Sandy in 2012, vehicle sales in the New York area jumped 49 percent, said Jonathan Smoke, the chief economist for Cox Automotive to Associated Press.
General Motors Co. sales jumped 7.5% to 275,552 units. Demand of small SUVs like the Chevrolet Equinox jumped 47% for the month.
Ford Motor Co. reported a 2%vdrop to 209,897 vehicles. Ford sold more than 77,000 F-Series pickups in August, a 15% gain over the same month of 2016.
Fiat Chrysler's sales sinked 11% to 176,033 units. Sales of the company's best-seller, the Ram pickup, dropped 7%.
Toyota Motor Co. said its sales rose 7% to 227,625 vehicles. Its car sales dropped 7%, but its SUV and truck sales hiked 19% thanks in part to strong sales of the RAV4 small SUV.
Honda Motor Co.'s sales fell 2% to 146,015 units. In a reverse of most other automakers, Honda saw increased car sales while sales of its trucks and SUVs fell.
Nissan Motor Co.'s sales fell 13% to 108,326 vehicles. Luxury Infiniti sales grew as that brand introduced new models, including the QX30 SUV. But Nissan brand sales fell 15%.