Falling gasoline prices improved buyers’ moods and boosted sales of sport utility vehicles and trucks in October.
The Associated Press reported that General Motors, Toyota, Chrysler, Nissan, Volkswagen and Honda reported sales gains last month. Of major automakers, only Ford and Hyundai reported declines. Industry sales rose 6% over last October, according to Autodata Corp.
The national average price of gasoline fell 33 cents to end October at $3 a gallon, according to AAA. Gasoline is the cheapest it has been in four years, and the decline accelerated a trend toward SUVs and trucks that has been going on all year.
“Gas prices coming down added a little bit of fuel to the fire, but that fire was already roaring,” said Alec Gutierrez, a senior analyst with Kelley Blue Book.
Small SUVs have been the fastest-growing segment in the United States this year and make up one out of every four vehicles sold, said Jesse Toprak, chief sales analyst for the car buying site Cars.com.
But gasoline prices fueled sales of bigger SUVs. Kelley Blue Book saw renewed interested in the mammoth Hummer H1 last month, for example. Sales of the recently redesigned Lincoln Navigator eight-passenger SUV jumped 38%, while Chevrolet Tahoe sales rose 6%.
Gas prices also persuaded small business owners to go ahead and buy pickup trucks, Toprak said. GMC Sierra sales jumped 12.5% in October. Ram pickup sales were up 33%.
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