The US auto industry should be calm after the storm, according to which expects a spike in vehicle sales from those who delayed purchases or need to replace vehicles following Hurricane Sandy.

Chief economist Lacey Plache said that, following Hurricane Katrina which hit New Orleans, and affected a much less populated area than New York/New Jersey, there were about a half million damaged vehicles.

“Sandy’s impact may well be higher but, even if 100,000 damaged vehicles are replaced by the end of the year it could boost auto sales 3-4% for the quarter, and that has a positive effect on the economy overall.”

The expected jump in demand will add more sales volume to a part of the country that is particularly important to the industry. estimates that 20% of all new car sales in the US come from the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast region that was affected by the storm.

Hurricane victims may also benefit a good market for car buyers. Its most recent statistics show that the average new car purchase was financed at a 4.1% APR in September, which was tied for the second-lowest monthly average since started keeping records in 2002. Some carmakers, such as GM and Nissan, have announced incentive programmes specifically for storm victims.

The storm-induced bump in the new car market is just one of many factors that expects to drive a strong finish to 2012. Increased lease terminations, growing consumer confidence, and a recovering housing market are all contributing to a positive outlook for fourth quarter car sales.