October US auto sales mostly up; Ford sales fall

Of the United States' top automakers, General Motors missed expectations, but said sales increased 0.2 percent thanks to gains in its sport utility vehicles

Automakers Monday reported mostly higher US sales in October behind rising consumer confidence and lower gasoline prices.

But Ford’s sales fell and General Motors’ missed expectations as smaller rival Chrysler continued to rack up strong gains.

GM, which unveiled a fleet of new pickup and crossover offerings this fall, said sales edged up 0.2 percent to 226,819 vehicles. The largest US automaker cited strong gains in its large sport utility vehicles such as the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban.

GM’s results came in slightly below the Edmunds.com forecast for a 2.1 percent gain.

“The US economy has steadily improved all year and now we are poised for a stronger expansion backed by an improved job market, higher consumer confidence and lower fuel prices,” said Kurt McNeil, US vice president of sales operations at GM.

For the second month in a row, Ford reported a drop in sales, this time by two percent to 188,654. Ford said the sales decline was expected and was linked to preparations to launch the 2015 aluminum F-150 pickup truck.

Chrysler, however, posted a 21.7 percent increase in sales to 170,480 units, driven by its popular Jeep vehicles and Ram trucks, which have benefited from lower gasoline prices.

Toyota also cited lower gas prices as a factor behind strong SUV sales. The Japanese automaker also reported a successful launch of its new 2015 model of the Toyota Camry, with sales of the sedan gaining 14 percent.

Toyota sales overall jumped 6.9 percent to 180,480 cars and trucks.

Honda and Nissan, meanwhile scored gains of 5.8 percent and 13 percent, respectively.

Despite the GM miss and the Ford decline, overall industry sales were slightly better than expected.

JPMorgan Chase said the reports suggested annual sales rate of 16.4 million cars, compared to the 16.3 million it had forecast.