How GM Paced the Auto Industry Through the Shutdown

Source: Detroit Three felt a major boost from truck-hungry consumers in October, a factor which led to big gains for Nissan (NSANY.PK) and modest gains for Toyota (NYSE:TM). General Motors (NYSE:GM) paced automakers with a strong showing in nearly every division, while Ford (NYSE:F) and The Chrysler Group (FIATY.PK) had their own reasons to celebrate. American consumers sprang into action once the shutdown ended and watched gas prices hover near $3.35 on average throughout October.

General Motors excelled across the board 

General Motors had an impressive month with 226,402 vehicles sold — about 35,000 more than second-place Ford. GM’s showing was 16 percent better than its performance in October 2012. Part of the reason was the uptick in buyers for the Silverado and GMC Sierra. Though Ford’s F-Series still topped the list of overall vehicle sales, the two GM pickups posted double-digit gains. Buick also helped push GM over the top by posting a 31-percent gain, while the Chevy Malibu and 2014 Impala surged.

Ford gained 14 percent 

Though Ford’s 14-percent year-over-year gains were impressive, they actually missed analyst expectations by two points. There were still numerous bright spots for the automaker. Among them, the Ford F-Series pickups had gains in double digits from 2012 figures once again, demonstrating an insatiable appetite for the automaker’s flagship vehicle. On the car front, Ford’s new star continued to impress.

The Ford Fusion skyrocketed 71 percent in sales compared to 2012, giving the Dearborn automaker reason to believe it has one of the hottest commodities on the market in its midsize sedan. Even better news was the 38 percent in gains for Ford’s Lincoln brand.

Chrysler won with Ron Burgundy 

The third Detroit heavyweight posted a gain of 11 percent in October, some of which can be tied to the popular Ron Burgundy ads for the Dodge Durango. The Will Ferrell character appears in ads that have gotten over seven million views online, according to Bloomberg.

Durango SUV sales jumped 59 percent in October on the strength of the promotion and a willingness of U.S. consumers to think big. Ironically, only parent Fiat’s cars were not performing on the same level as the Durango, Dodge Charger, Chrysler 300, and other Chrysler Group models. One GM economist told The Wall Street Journal that steady gas prices contributed to the strength of the pickup and small SUV segments.

Japanese automakers also had strong showings in the U.S.

Nissan strong, Toyota steady 

Nissan’s 14-percent jump bested Fiat’s Chrysler Group and trailed only Ford and GM in monthly performance. The Pathfinder and Frontier powered the automaker’s performance, while Toyota bested Chrysler in overall sales to place third with a gain of 9 percent, short of the forecasted analysts’ marks.

Automaker reps joined industry analysts and car dealers in saying the first two weeks of the month were slow while the U.S. government shut down major parts of its operation. Once the Republicans dropped the Obamacare demands and default was avoided, U.S. customers flocked to dealerships to deliver another successful month in a wildly successful year for the industry.

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