DETROIT >> Chrysler, Nissan and Honda all reported U.S. sales gains last month as falling gas prices and an improving economy boosted sales of pickup trucks and SUVs.
Chrysler said its U.S. sales rose 22 percent to 170,480 for its best October since 2001, while both Nissan and Honda posted their best October ever. Nissan sales were up 13 percent over a year ago, while Honda’s rose nearly 6 percent.
The early reports Monday were a strong sign that the auto sales boom would continue at pre-recession levels through the rest of the year. Industry analysts are expecting a 6 percent sales gain after automakers report their U.S. numbers on Monday.
Nissan said low gas prices and high consumer confidence pushed up sales across most of its model lineup.
"We expect that these factors will continue to boost auto sales for the last two months of 2014." said Fred Diaz, Nissan’s U.S. sales and marketing chief.
The Japanese automaker said its Nissan and Infiniti brands sold just over 103,000 cars and trucks last month. Nissan sales rose almost 15 percent while the Infiniti luxury brand was down 1 percent. Nissan was led by the Rogue small crossover SUV, with sales up almost 14 percent.
At Chrysler, the red-hot Jeep brand led the way with a 52 percent increase over a year ago. The company sold nearly 16,000 Cherokees as the small SUV again unseated the Grand Cherokee as the brand’s top seller. Ram pickup sales continued to be strong, up 33 percent for the month.
Honda said its sales rose to 121,172. Honda brand sales were up 5.5 percent, while luxury Acura brand sales rose 8 percent on thanks to demand for the new TLX sedan.
Sales of Honda’s best-seller, the CR-V small crossover SUV, jumped 30 percent to 29,257, while sales of the recently redesigned Fit subcompact were up 83 percent. But sales of the Civic small car dropped 12 percent as buyers generally sought bigger cars and crossovers. Accord midsize car sales were up 8 percent.