Luxury-car brands such as Honda Motor Co.’s Acura and Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz will take a disproportionate hit from Hurricane Sandy, with as much as 25 percent of U.S. sales coming from cities in the storm’s path.
“The last week of the month is typically a big week in terms of new vehicle sales,” Larry Dixon, senior analyst for the National Automobile Dealers Association, based in McLean, Virginia. “Everyone’s trying to finish off the month on a high note. We might see October sales down just a bit from what everybody had anticipated.”
The New York, Washington and Philadelphia markets account for a quarter of Acura’s U.S. sales, 24 percent of Mercedes-Benz’s and 23 percent for Bayerische Motoren Werke AG and Volvo Cars, according to auto researcher Edmunds.com.
States affected by the hurricane, the biggest-ever Atlantic Ocean tropical storm, are home to 4,751 dealerships selling new cars, according to data compiled by the auto dealers’ group. Dealers increase sales at the end of the month and automakers report sales monthly at the beginning of the following month.
Those dealers may lose the last three days of October sales as Sandy pummels the Eastern seaboard, keeping prospective car buyers home.
Honda is the most popular brand in New York, and in Washington it’s Toyota Motor Corp., according to Edmunds.
October is usually one of the slowest months for auto sales, with seasonally-adjusted sales about 1 percent lower than in September, Dixon said.
Sales of cars and light trucks in October may accelerate to a 14.8 million annualized rate, taking into account seasonal adjustments, according to the average estimate of 13 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg this week and last week. The pace was 13.3 million a year earlier and 14.9 million in September, according to researcher Autodata Corp.
September’s sales rate was the best since March 2008, before a global credit crisis.