Foreign Carmakers Raced to Record U.S. Sales in October

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Subaru OutbackBased on initial reports, automakers appear to have had their best sales so far this year in October, despite consumer wariness about the lackluster economy.

South Korean automakers Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors, along with Japan's Subaru and Germany's Volkswagen, on Nov. 2 reported double-digit increases in sales in October. The Big Three domestic automakers along with Toyota Motor (TM), Honda Motor (HMC) and Nissan Motors (NSANY) will report sales later today.

Hyundai said it sold 42,656, cars and sports-utility vehicles last month, up 38% compared to year ago, setting an October record. Sales of the redesigned Sonata midsize sedan and Tucson small SUV were particularly strong, up 125% and 260%, respectively, the automaker said.

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Kia, which moved 31,119 units, saw its sales rise 39% compared to last year, also setting a record for the month. Strong demand for Soul and Forte models, along with the U.S.-made Sorento midsize SUV helped propel the jump.

Volkswagen (VLKAY), which recently introduced a redesigned compact Jetta sedan to the U.S. market, said its sales rose 18% above last year's levels to 20,084 vehicles. VW said the new Jetta sold 5,464 units in its first full month of sales, giving the model its best sales month since 2005, excluding last year's "cash for clunkers" rebate period.

Subaru also set a new sales record for the month, as sales jumped 25% on strong demand for its Outback, Forester and Impreza models. In total, the carmaker sold 22,720 vehicles in the U.S. for October.

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