October Auto Sales Snapshot

General Motors, FCA US, Ford, Toyota and Nissan rode strong truck demand and higher incentives to double-digit U.S. sales gains in October amid fresh forecasts that the industry’s annualized sales rate will at least match September’s 10-year high.

GM notched a 16 percent increase while touting continued strength in more-profitable sales to individual customers. FCA US stretched its streak of advances to 67 months with a 15 percent jump. Ford Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. each gained 13 percent.

“Manufacturers with a strong light-truck portfolio — FCA, Ford, GM, and Toyota — are maximizing production and availability of these products to take advantage of the appealing environment of low interest rates and gas prices,” said Tom Libby, manager of industry analysis, at IHS Automotive. “They know this situation won’t last forever.”

GM, behind gains in light-truck demand at Chevrolet, GMC and Cadillac, said retail and fleet volume rose 16 percent last month.

Volume rose 18 percent at Chevrolet and GMC, and 13 percent at Cadillac. Deliveries slipped 0.2 percent at Buick. October was the first month this year that GM’s car sales increased year-over-year.

Ford Motor was boosted by a 14 percent increase at the Ford division and 13 percent increase in overall retail shipments. Deliveries slipped 4.5 percent at Lincoln, ending six consecutive months of gains.

At FCA, Jeep sales rose 33 percent, Dodge rose 12 percent, Ram rose 2.9 percent and the Chrysler brand and Fiat rose 0.9 percent. The company’s truck sales jumped 20 percent while car demand slipped 3 percent.

Toyota Motor Corp. said sales surged 13 percent to 204,045 vehicles, including a record October for the Toyota Division that was driven by the Highlander and RAV4 crossovers. For the second straight month, Scion tallied a gain with volume rising 50 percent.

Honda Motor Co. posted a 9 percent gain with sales of 131,651 vehicles, underscored by an October record for the Honda brand. The redesigned Honda Pilot crossover stood out with a 63 percent gain with 12,913 vehicles sold.

At Nissan Motor, sales of the namesake brand rose 12 percent, while the Infiniti luxury unit climbed 23 percent.

Volume is forecast to drop 6.4 percent at the Volkswagen Group. Deliveries rose 0.2 percent at the VW brand, despite a sales ban on some diesel models after the company admitted to violating U.S. emissions tests, and 17 percent at Audi.

Among other automakers, volume rose 87 percent at Volvo, 35 percent at Mazda, and 20 percent at Subaru and Mitsubishi. Deliveries slipped 3.8 percent at the BMW brand and 23 percent at Mini.

Mazda chalked up its strong sales to easing supply constraints and better build combinations. “We are finally getting to a place where the inventory, and the right inventory, is available for customers when they want it,” a Mazda spokesman said.

Subaru’s U.S. sales have now advanced 47 consecutive months year over year.

At Jaguar Land Rover, volume surged 76 percent on a 98 percent gain at Land Rover. Jaguar deliveries slipped 1.9 percent and are now off 4.9 percent for the year.

Industry volume continues to be fueled by favorable credit, pent-up-demand, notably for light trucks, and lower gasoline prices.

U.S. sales of light vehicles, driven by robust demand for pickups, crossovers and SUVs, have advanced 5 percent this year through September and remain on track to top 17 million units for just the third time.

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