By Tom Krisher and Dee-Ann Durbin
The Associated Press
DETROIT — The government shutdown dampened — but didn’t stall — Americans’ demand for new cars and trucks.
The 16-day shutdown slowed U.S. auto sales in the first two weeks of October, but they picked up speed in the last two weeks. Sales rose 11 percent to 1.2 million.
General Motors, Ford, Nissan and Chrysler all recorded double-digit sales gains, while Toyota, Honda and Hyundai saw smaller increases. Of major automakers, only Volkswagen’s sales fell.
Stable fuel prices, low interest rates and the increased availability of credit pushed people to buy regardless of the political wrangling, said Kurt McNeil, GM’s vice president of U.S. sales.
“All those things that have been driving the economy? They’re still there,” he said.
Pickup trucks sold well as business improved for contractors and other workers. Sales of the Chevrolet Silverado jumped 10 percent to nearly 43,000, and Chrysler’s Ram truck was up 18 percent. Sales of Ford’s F-Series pickups rose 13 percent.
SUV sales were also strong. Sales of Nissan’s Pathfinder nearly doubled from last October. Sales of the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban large SUVs both jumped more than 50 percent.