European brands take worst sales hit from Sandy
SUMMIT, N.J. -- Sandy's biggest impact may be felt by European brands that depend heavily on sales in the hard-hit region.
"We can expect to see the effects of the storm on our sales for the next four to six weeks," said Mercedes-Benz USA spokeswoman Donna Boland.
Edmunds.com analyst Jessica Caldwell said Sandy will have "significantly more" impact on Mercedes and BMW than on most other brands.
She said New York City, northern New Jersey and part of Connecticut account for 17 percent of U.S. sales for Mercedes and 16 percent for BMW -- compared with 6 percent for Toyota, 4 percent for Ford and 3 percent for Chevrolet.
Volkswagen says about 20 percent of its U.S. sales are in areas that were slammed by the storm. Spokesman Scott Vazin said about 20 percent of the 607 VW brand dealerships were affected "in some way." But Vazin said it is too early to know what effect the destruction will have on sales for the rest of the year.
Volkswagen's situation last week was typical of most automakers in the days after the storm hit.
"Our regional management does not have power, nor do their dealerships," Vazin said.
"Cell phones are beginning to run dry of battery power. We don't have any concrete information on dealership facility damages just yet. Some of our regional folks are trying to get out and drive around to investigate, but many of the roads are closed."
Audi of America said New Jersey, New York and New England account for 20 percent of its U.S. sales. "There has been short-term impact from power outages and customers postponing deliveries until after the storm passed," a spokesman said. "We're still assessing whether there's any long-lasting impact on our sales numbers."
Volvo Cars of North America, based in Rockleigh, N.J., said about 20 percent of its 118 dealers in the Northeast region were affected by the storm. "Some did report vehicle losses and we are working with them to replace inventory," a spokeswoman said.
BMW is based in Woodcliff Lake, N.J. Its offices were still closed as of Friday. Peter Miles, BMW of North America's vice president of operations, said: "Business conditions in the affected areas are extremely challenging right now."
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