LOS ANGELES / SOUTHFIELD, MICHIGAN – Toyota, Chrysler, Nissan and Honda and their dealers plan to scrap more than 15,000 new vehicles damaged by Superstorm Sandy as the industry continues assessing the tempest’s impact.
Nissan alone estimates more than 6,000 Nissan and luxury Infiniti cars and light trucks are “un-saleable” because of the storm, spokesman Travis Parman said this week.
Including used autos and those of individual owners, as many as 200,000 overall may have to be replaced, said Larry Dixon, senior analyst for the National Automobile Dealers Association.
“Total vehicles affected may be about one-third of what we saw with Hurricane Katrina, and that was about 600,000″ used and new vehicles, Dixon said. “We don’t see replacement demand starting to accelerate until we’re into December.”
Sandy, the biggest Atlantic storm in U.S. history, raked New Jersey, New York and the surrounding region with winds of as much as 160 kph and led to at least 100 deaths. The storm’s surge of more than 4 meters inundated transit tunnels and underground utilities, destroyed homes and eroded natural barriers such as beaches after it struck Oct. 29.
U.S. light-vehicle sales in October fell short of the average estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg after Sandy slammed the East Coast during the industry’s busiest time of the month. Sales for the month rose 6.9 percent, below the 12 percent gain that was the average of nine estimates. Carmakers have said those sales should be made up by year’s end.
Fisker Automotive Inc., a startup maker of luxury plug-in hybrids, lost 338 of its $103,000 Karma sedans at the port of Newark, New Jersey, including 16 that burned in a fire triggered by saltwater, said Roger Ormisher, a spokesman for the California-based company.
“We don’t have a full estimate of the cost to replace them yet,” he said.
The closely held company’s cars were being processed for delivery to dealers when the storm, initially a hurricane, arrived. Replacing 338 Karmas at the $103,000 base price would total $34.8 million.
Dozens of auto dealerships still had limited or no power more than a week after Sandy knocked out electricity to 8.5 million homes and businesses across 21 states.
“Between dealer and port vehicles for both Nissan and Infiniti, initial estimates have us at more than 6,000 units as ‘un-saleable’ to be scrapped,” Parman said in an email message.
While 56 Nissan dealers were shut down by Sandy a week ago, “all but five are operational again,” he said. All New York-region Infiniti stores have also reopened, except for one, Parman said.
“We’re working closely with dealers to get them replacement product as soon as they’re ready to receive,” he said.
Some 4,000 Toyota and Lexus vehicles were at the company’s port facility in Newark when the storm hit, Jana Hartline, a spokeswoman for Toyota’s U.S. unit, said.
“We have about 1,300 that we are taking a second look at” that may be salvaged, she said. “A little bit under 3,000 will likely be scrapped.”
Another 825 vehicles in dealer inventory were damaged by Sandy and can’t be sold, she added.
Four Toyota dealers still lacked power as of Tuesday, “but all of them are now able to receive vehicles,” she said.
Honda and Acura dealers expect to have to scrap about 3,440 vehicles, said Chris Martin of Honda’s U.S. unit. Whether to scrap will be determined by dealers and their insurers, he said.
Additionally, about 500 U.S.-built vehicles Honda was preparing to export from the FAPS Inc. port facility in Newark were also damaged, according to Martin.
Both Toyota and Honda said they didn’t yet have estimates of the value of the vehicles lost.
Meanwhile, Chrysler dealers lost about 750 vehicles from their stock due to hurricane damage, said spokesman Ralph Kisiel.
Hyundai Motor Co.’s U.S. unit lost 400 vehicles, said spokeswoman Lori Scholz.