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DETROIT (AP) â¿¿ Major automakers are reporting sales increases for October despite losing three days of business to the punishing rain and wind from Superstorm Sandy.
Toyota said its sales rose almost 16 percent for the month, while Volkswagen reported another strong month with sales up 22 percent. Chrysler sales rose 10 percent, General Motors was up 5 percent and Ford rose only slightly.
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.
Ford said Sandy probably cost the industry 20,000 to 25,000 sales for the month as buyers in the Northeast hunkered down for the storm at the end of the month.
Ford's U.S. sales chief Ken Czubay said that in past storms, sales were postponed, and they typically recovered quickly after people's lives stabilized.
He also said there were a "significant number" of vehicles damaged by flood waters, and that could also boost sales in November. "Typically after the insurance companies come in, people use those proceeds to buy new vehicles, which they need to get back and forth to continue their lives," he said.
Volkswagen said one-quarter of its dealerships were affected by the storm, but it still delivered its best October in nearly 40 years at just over 34,000 vehicles. Sales were led by the Passat midsize sedan, which was up 66 percent.
Chrysler said it sold 126,000 cars and trucks for the month, led by the Ram pickup, which was up 20 percent, and the Dodge Caravan van, which saw sales rise 49 percent.
At Ford, sales increased only 0.4 percent 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.