Auto sales in the U.S. market increased for the first time in the year last September, after thousands of car owners rushed to auto dealers to replace some of the 700,000 vehicles damaged or destroyed in two hurricane-hit parts of the country.
According to analysts some 500,000 cars were damaged or destroyed during Harvey in the Houston area, the fourth-most populous U.S. city, while another 200,000 cars suffered the same fate during Irma in the state of Florida.
That helped the auto industry sell 1.52 million new cars, SUVs and light trucks, an increase of 6.1% compared to September 2016, according to the tracking firm Autodata Corp. The seasonally adjusted annualized rate in September rose to 18.57 million units from 17.72 million units a year earlier, Autodata revealed.
Not only it was the first increase after sales declines in every month this year, but the post-hurricane recovery process is now expected to continue to fuel growth in October and even in early 2018.
Out of the three Detroit automakers, General Motors reported the best result to an 11.9% sales boost, Ford followed with an overall increase of 8.7%. Meanwhile, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles saw sales declining 10% due in part to what the company said was a planned drawdown of fleet deliveries to businesses and government agencies.
The three biggest Japanese automakers performed significantly better. Toyota had sales growth of 14.9%, Nissan reported 9.5% increase and Honda posted a 6.8% jump.