(New York) Automakers benefited from strong U.S. consumer demand in the third quarter, despite high borrowing rates and inflation, with the “Big Three” remaining unscathed at this point in the strike launched in mid-September.

The three historic giants, nicknamed the “Big Three”, have revealed their third quarter sales in recent days: 21% year-on-year for General Motors (674,334 vehicles), -1% for Stellantis (380,563 vehicles) and 7, 7% for Ford (500,504).

A few days earlier, Tesla announced deliveries of 435,059 vehicles, below its growth rate due to planned factory maintenance operations.

“Vehicle sales are, so far, stronger than expected,” Neil Saunders, director at the analysis firm Globaldata, commented to AFP.

“Although households are affected by higher interest rates and costs of living, demand for new vehicles remains strong,” he added, noting “strong interest” in electric vehicles.

“It’s clearly a rebound from a fairly disappointing second quarter,” he said.

For Cox Automotive, the decline at Stellantis is explained by a strategy of selling less at higher prices and by the fact that its traditional customers present more economic difficulties.

As for the “Big Three”, eyes remain on their stocks as they negotiate new four-year collective agreements with the powerful United Auto Workers (UAW) union, to which some 146,000 of their employees in the United States belong. United.

In the absence of an agreement by the September 14 deadline, the union launched a call for a targeted strike, initially on three factories – one from each of the manufacturers – before extending the movement in successive weekly waves. At this stage, some 25,000 employees are affected.

“We believe the strike will continue for some time because the UAW has not obtained the concessions it would like and manufacturers (like GM) do not seem willing to budge on certain issues,” he said. reported to AFP Garrett Nelson, vice-president of CFRA Research.

The impact on sales remains “limited due to the targeted nature” of the movement and because it began at the end of the quarter, he continued, stressing that Ford and Stellantis benefited from “greater flexibility » because they have higher stocks.

But these reserves will melt, “which could weigh on sales in the coming months,” noted analysts at Oxford Economics, stressing that stocks were at “historically low levels” before the strike.

According to them, “the biggest risk will be the drop in demand due to the slowdown in the growth of household income and the tightening of financial conditions”, in particular on the granting of loans.

For Neil Saunders, spare parts are most likely to run out quickly.

Paul Jacobson, GM’s chief financial officer, said Tuesday on CNBC that the cost in the third quarter was $200 million.

Regarding the $6 billion credit line announced earlier, he called it “prudent in light of some comments made by UAW officials about their intention to drag out (the strike) During months “.

Manufacturers must publish their quarterly results at the end of October.

The negotiations, which began in July, are continuing in a “very active manner” but the situation is still “too fluid,” a source close to the negotiations said on Wednesday.

Ford — which employs 57,000 union members — sent a new proposal Monday evening, including “record pay and benefits, commitments on new products and layoff protections.”

The union plans to provide an update on the discussions on Friday. On this occasion, it could mobilize new sites.

As a result of this strike, around 3,500 employees of the “Big Three” were temporarily dismissed due to lack of activity because their tasks depend on factories disrupted by the movement.

Not eligible for unemployment benefits, they receive from the union — like the strikers — $500 per week.