John Krafcik, chief executive officer of Hyundai US said a longer U.S. government shutdown is likely affecting consumer confidence and could decrease October new-vehicle sales by as much as 10%.
Krafcik said in an interview with Bloomberg that the problems in Washington that started Oct. 1, which put some government agencies on shutdown and federal workers furloughed, is building “anxiety” for many people.
“It’s that anxiety that keeps customers, potential buyers, on the sidelines when making a big purchase like an automobile,” he said. “We’ll probably see the industry off five to 10 percent this month, compared to where it was in September. I think a lot of it has to do with this shutdown discussion.”
Auto sales were one of the most consistent bright spots for the US economy, even as September came, when fewer sales days in the month than usual led to 2013’s first decline in deliveries. The year’s last quarter, when automakers are usually selling off previous model year cars at great prices and switch to the newer products, is usually one of the stronger sales time for the industry.
Hyundai took the opportunity of the political trouble to assist federal workers affected by the shutdown to defer loan and lease payments to the Seoul-based automaker, through a program implemented at the month’s start. Toyota Financial Services also just announced it would also offer “relief” on loan and lease payments for federal employees for a period of three months.