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US new vehicle sales jump in third quarter as UAW strike casts shadow

By Nathan Gomes

(Reuters) -Top global automakers on Tuesday reported a rise in U.S. new vehicle sales for the third quarter, buoyed by resilient demand for latest models and improved supplies.

General Motors extended a strong year as it posted an about 21% rise in U.S. sales to 674,336 vehicles, benefiting from demand for its pickup trucks, affordable crossover SUVs and electric vehicles.

EV sales jumped 28% in the third quarter from the preceding quarter, the company said.

Overall, U.S. new vehicle sales in September were 1.33 million units, with an annual sales rate of 15.67 million units, according to data released by Wards Intelligence on Tuesday.

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The robust performance comes against the backdrop of the ongoing coordinated strike from the United Auto Workers (UAW) union against the Detroit Three automakers that has sparked concerns over supply disruptions in the current quarter.

Sales in September also benefited from inventory that was built up in anticipation of the strike.

GM said on Tuesday it had 442,586 vehicles in inventory. While it did not address the impact of the strike, a 40-day UAW walkout in 2019 led to a 6% fall in sales in the fourth quarter of that year and cost the automaker $3.6 billion.

Rival Ford Motor is expected to report U.S. auto sales on Wednesday, while Stellantis' unit FCA U.S. reported a 1.3% fall for the third quarter to 380,563 units.

Meanwhile, Asian brands posted strong gains in the quarter. Toyota Motor posted a 12.2% rise in third-quarter U.S. sales. Kia and Hyundai also posted higher sales for the period.

Hyundai is offering incentives on its EVs to overcome the disadvantage of not qualifying for the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act tax credits, the company told Reuters on Tuesday.

However, the South Korea-based automaker said rising interest rates "make it very, very challenging for consumers to purchase a vehicle."

EV leader Tesla on Monday missed market estimates for third-quarter deliveries due to planned factory upgrades.

(Reporting by Nathan Gomes and Shivansh Tiwary in Bengaluru, Joseph White in Detroit; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Maju Samuel)