Automakers bounce back, reporting strong sales in September

General Motors Co. sold 279,397 new cars and trucks in September, tops among U.S. automakers as the industry bounced back from major hurricanes that tamped down sales in two large markets.

Ford, Toyota, Nissan, Honda and Volkswagen also reported strong sales in September. Analysts had predicted automakers would benefit from a strong economy and the demand for replacement vehicles following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which resulted in heavy flooding in Texas and Florida.

“The overall strength of the U.S. economy is the main force driving the market,” Mustafa Mohatarem, GM’s chief economist, said in a statement. “With the U.S. economy strengthening, retail sales should remain strong for the foreseeable future.”

GM’s strong month was driven by sales of crossover vehicles, which were up 43 percent over a year ago.Truck sales were up 10 percent, while the demand for cars fell 11 percent.

Ford’s sales totaled 221,643 in September, up nearly 9 percent, led by a nearly 20 percent increase in trucks sold.

“Our September sales were strong across the board including retail, commercial and government. We’re pleased to say recovery in Houston and Florida is moving quickly, with all of our dealers in the area now back up,” said Mark LaNeve, vice president marketing, sales and service for Ford.

The news wasn’t as good for Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles, which reported a 10 percent drop in sales from September 2016. While the company said five vehicles — the Jeep Renegade, Chrysler Pacifica, Ram ProMaster and Ram ProMaster City — “recorded their best September sales ever,” fleet sales were down 41 percent from last year in an effort to “reduce sales to the daily rental segment.”

Foreign manufacturers also did well in September. Toyota’s sales were up 15 percent from one year ago., while Nissan’s rose 9.5 percent. Volkswagen reported a 33 percent increase for the Volkswagen brand and 9.6 percent for Audi.