Cruze sales up slightly

LORDSTOWN — Domestic sales of the Chevrolet Cruze advanced slightly last month, driven mostly by a surge in deliveries of the small car’s Mexican-made hatchbacks.

There were 15,268 Cruzes sold across the country last month, according to figures General Motors released Tuesday.

Of those, 12,739 were Cruze sedans made by local workers at the GM Assembly Complex in Lordstown. The other 2,529 were the hatchbacks made in Mexico, but sold in the United States.

Last month’s overall Cruze sales increased 0.3 percent from 15,216 in September 2016 when 14,967 sedans and 249 hatchbacks were sold.

Year-to-date, Cruze sales rose 8.1 percent from 138,012 in September 2016 to 149,234 last month. Sales , as of Saturday, included 123,547 sedans and 25,687 hatchbacks. Last year, in the same period, there were 138,012 Cruze deliveries, including 137,761 sedans and 251 hatchbacks.

Overall, GM reported a year-over-year sales increase of 11.9 percent with 279,397 deliveries last month compared to 249,795 in September 2016. The Detroit automaker attributed the jump, in part, to a 17 percent increase at Chevrolet and a 9 percent increase at GMC.

The company’s top-selling vehicles for the month, year-over-year, were the Chevy Silverado pickup truck, at 55,236 deliveries, up 21.7 percent from 45,380; Chevy Equinox, with 27,512, up 80.3 percent from 15,261; Chevy Malibu, 23,989, up 11.5 percent from 21,521; GMC Sierra, 18,106, up 0.2 percent from 18,068; and the Cruze.

Mustafa Mohatarem, GM chief economist, said all the key U.S. economic indicators point toward continued economic growth and stability. In addition, regions devastated by the recent hurricanes will continue to recover, helping spur new and used vehicle sales.

“The overall strength of the U.S. economy is the main force driving the market,” he said. “With the U.S. economy strengthening, retail sales should remain strong for the foreseeable future.”

Industry analysts had predicted a strong month due to Labor Day weekend deals and a small boost from owners replacing cars damaged by hurricanes in Texas and Florida. The auto website expected overall sales to rise 0.4 percent from last year, but early indications had pointed to a stronger increase.

Overall industry sales fell 2.7 percent through the first eight months of the year and were off 1.9 percent in August as Hurricane Harvey battered Texas.

Then in September, Irma hit Florida, where many dealerships were forced to close for a week or longer due to lack of electric power.

Even so, automakers bounced back with strong sales last month. Toyota, 14.9 percent, Honda, with 6.8 percent increase, Ford, up 8.7 percent, Nissan, up 9.5 percent, and Volkswagen, with a 33.2 percent jump, all posted strong monthly U.S. sales numbers, confirming expectations that a boost in sales from hurricane-ravaged Texas would push the industry to a September rebound.

Italian-American automaker Fiat Chrysler posted a 10 percent drop on what it said was a planned reduction of sales to rental car companies

But the positive sales results drove auto shares up, pushing the Standard & Poor’s consumer sector higher. Shares of all automakers, save for Tesla, rose in trading Tuesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.