Ford, Chrysler post big gains in US sales

Ford and Chrysler posted double digit US sales gains in October as the auto industry looked set to maintain its steady growth despite economic uncertainty caused by a government shutdown.

Automotive website forecasts that total industry sales will rise 12.7 percent from October of 2012 and reach an adjusted, annualized pace of 15.5 million vehicles once all automakers have reported.

Weekly data suggested that consumers "started to get jittery" towards the end of the 16-day political showdown, which saw hundreds of thousands of federal employees laid off with no certainty of being paid, said Edmunds analyst Jessica Caldwell.

But sales soon recovered when the government got back to work on October 17 and back pay was assured.

Ford posted its best October retail sales since 2004 while total sales (which include fleet sales) rose 14 percent to 191,985 vehicles.

"October was simply an outstanding retail performance, as consumers continued to choose Ford for great fuel efficiency, styling and value at all levels of the market," Ford sales chief John Felice said in a statement.

Chrysler's sales rose 11 percent to 140,083 vehicles in its best October performance since 2007.

The third largest US automaker has now posted 43 consecutive months of sales gains.

"After a choppy start to the beginning of the month, Chrysler Group sales accelerated in the second half of the month with renewed consumer confidence and the launch of our all-new Jeep Cherokee," Chrysler sales chief Reid Bigland said.