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U.S. Auto Industry’s October Surprise

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Sleeping on October’s U.S vehicle sales numbers has economists and insiders tossing and turning about what’s really happening in the marketplace. On one hand it all makes sense. The sharp decline in passenger car sales was enough to offset booming demand for pickup trucks and SUVs to edge overall industry volumes down just 0.4% last month.

On the other hand, that was much better than forecasts which looked for more modest results given higher interest rates, a volatile stock market and lower incentive levels. The seasonally adjusted average selling rate (SAAR) of 17.59 million units soundly beat forecasts for a 17.3 million SAAR.

Cox Automotive Senior Economist Charlie Chesbrough is one of those analysts looking to make sense of what’s going on and admits the market is not obeying conventional wisdom given the apparent headwinds.

“It seems like there’s something going on in the market where there’s a lot of things you can point to to say the market is slowing,” said Chesbrough in an interview. “Boy, it’s all theory at this point because the market numbers just aren’t supporting that.”

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