New car sales by franchised auto dealers in Western New York fell 2.1 percent in October, driven by another big drop for Ford vehicles that was offset somewhat by another surge for Toyota. The pace of sales for the year remains ahead of 2011.
Local brand-name dealers in Erie and Niagara counties sold 4,071 new cars in October, down from 4,157 a year ago, according to the Niagara Frontier Automobile Dealers Association. For the first 10 months of the year, however, sales were up 3.1 percent to 44,266 from 42,920 last year.
"Our sales were off a little bit," said Mike Basil, president of Basil Toyota. "I think the market was a little sluggish, but it rebounded pretty quickly in November. I think it kind of went that way in our region."
He blamed the decline on uncertainty about the election and the effects of Hurricane Sandy at the end of the month. The dealership normally does about 40 percent of its business in the last 10 days of each month, but the volume for that period in October was just 20 percent of the monthly tally. "Between the election and the storm coming in, I think it kept the buyers away from the showrooms," said Basil, who is also president of Basil Resale Sheridan.
As usual, reported sales in October were dominated by Ford Motor Co., with 873 vehicles sold through 14 dealerships. However, that's down 24 percent from 1,152 a year ago, and it's the third lowest for the year. So far this year, Ford sales are down 5.2 percent to 9,894 from 10,438 in the first 10 months of 2011.
Meanwhile, Ford's leading Asian rivals are surging, though that's partially because of supply disruptions last year following the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
Japan's Toyota Motor Corp. had 554 sales at five dealerships in the region in October, up 13.1 percent from 489 in October 2011. But that's still its lowest level since February and represented a slower pace of growth than prior months. "Our sales were up, but not to the pace they've been all year," Basil said. "We didn't finish our month on a normal note."
Rival Honda Motor Corp. was third, with 360 sales, up 7.8 percent from 334. For the year to date, Toyota sales are up 14.4 percent to 6,463 from 5,651, while Honda sales are up 18.4 percent to 3,674 from 3,102.
Jeep was fourth, with 297 sales, up 42 percent from 209 a year ago.
Next came Nissan Motor Co., with 235 cars sold in October, down 8.9 percent from 258 a year ago. Nissan was followed by South Korea's Hyundai Motor, with 217 sales, down 14.6 percent from 254 a year ago. Chrysler's Dodge brand was next, with 216 sales, up 6.9 percent from 202 a year ago.
Overall, 14 brands reported declines, while 16 had increases. Chevrolet, typically a powerhouse in the market, doesn't report its figures, making comparisons to rivals difficult.
However, Jim Basil, president of Joe Basil Chevrolet in Depew, said the dealership was roughly flat in October, after "coming of a great September," when sales were up 12 percent. In particular, sales of Chevy Silverado trucks soared so much in late August through September that the dealership ran out of inventory in October. Even so, "we still had a really good truck month," he said."We had a really big Silverado truck month," said Basil, whose dealership is ranked eighth in the country out of 3,000 Chevy dealers. "That was our best seller by far."