Auto sales get a boost from Chrysler, Nissan, and Honda

Chrysler, Nissan and Honda all reported US sales gains last month as falling gas prices and an improving economy boosted sales of pickup trucks and SUVs. Chrysler said its US sales rose 22 percent to 170,480 for its best October since 2001.

Charles Krupa/AP/File
Jeep, Dodge Ram and Chevrolet logos on signs at Bill DeLuca's dealerships in Haverhill, Mass. Chrysler, Nissan and Honda on Monday, Nov. 3, 2014, all reported US sales gains last month as low gas prices and booming SUV and pickup truck sales drove people into dealerships.

Chrysler, Nissan and Honda all reported U.S. sales gains last month as falling gas prices and an improving economy boosted sales of pickup trucks and SUVs.

Chrysler said its U.S. sales rose 22 percent to 170,480 for its best October since 2001, while both Nissan and Honda posted their best October ever. Nissan sales were up 13 percent over a year ago, while Honda's rose nearly 6 percent.

The early reports Monday were a strong sign that the auto sales boom would continue at pre-recession levels through the rest of the year. Industry analysts are expecting a 6 percent sales gain after automakers report their U.S. numbers on Monday.

Nissan said low gas prices and high consumer confidence pushed up sales across most of its model lineup.

"We expect that these factors will continue to boost auto sales for the last two months of 2014." said Fred Diaz, Nissan's U.S. sales and marketing chief.

The Japanese automaker said its Nissan and Infiniti brands sold just over 103,000 cars and trucks last month. Nissan sales rose almost 15 percent while the Infiniti luxury brand was down 1 percent. Nissan was led by the Rogue small crossover SUV, with sales up almost 14 percent.

At Chrysler, the red-hot Jeep brand led the way with a 52 percent increase over a year ago. The company sold nearly 16,000 Cherokees as the small SUV again unseated the Grand Cherokee as the brand's top seller. Ram pickup sales continued to be strong, up 33 percent for the month.

The strong sales for Chrysler come on the heels of a series of moves by parent company Fiat Chrysler to boost its value. Last week, the automaker announced it was spinning off its luxury Ferrari brand into a separate company in an effort to separate it from its mass market parent. The company will sell 10 percent of Ferrari's shares in a public offering,with the remaining 90 percent distributed to its own shareholders. The board intends to complete the move during 2015, and said shares would be listed in the United States and with a possible double listing in Europe. 

In mid-October, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles went public on the New York Stock Exchange, under the listing FCAU. The listing was seen as a crucial step in  CEO Sergio Marchionne's efforts to turn the recently-merged company into one of the world's leading automakers. 

Honda said its sales rose to 121,172. Honda brand sales were up 5.5 percent, while luxury Acura brand sales rose 8 percent on thanks to demand for the new TLX sedan.

Sales of Honda's best-seller, the CR-V small crossover SUV, jumped 30 percent to 29,257, while sales of the recently redesigned Fit subcompact were up 83 percent. But sales of the Civic small car dropped 12 percent as buyers generally sought bigger cars and crossovers. Accord midsize car sales were up 8 percent.

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