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STOCKHOLM—Volvo Car Corp. on Monday said its vehicle sales in the U.S. and China plunged in October compared with a year earlier, triggering a 1.8% drop in its sales volume and further widening the gap to other auto makers, many of which posted U.S. sales increases.

The Chinese-owned auto maker said its U.S. sales slumped 14.4% compared with a year ago to 4,196 cars in October. Sales in China were down 11.7% from a year earlier, to 3,389 vehicles.

Volvo, which in 2010 was acquired by Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. from Ford Motor Co., F +0.81% previously said it is slowing auto production due to lower demand.

In total, Volvo sold 34,843 vehicles in October, down from 35,489 cars sold in the same month a year earlier. A 3.8% increase in Europe during the month of October helped to offset sales declines in other markets. Europe is by far Volvo's largest market.

Frustrated by recent losses and a lack of momentum in the Chinese auto market, Volvo last month sacked its chief executive and replaced him with Håkan Samuelsson, formerly the head of German truck maker MAN SE, MAN.XE +0.18% to spearhead a turnaround plan. The 85-year-old Swedish company has been hurt by sluggish demand in Europe and is scrambling to carve out a larger role in the highly competitive Chinese and U.S. auto markets.

The October sales decline came as political uncertainty ahead of possible leadership changes in both the U.S. and China have weighed on consumer spending. Hurricane Sandy also hampered demand at the end of the month.

Still, auto makers including Chrysler Group LLC and Toyota Motor Corp 7203.TO -2.62% . reported double-digit percentage gains in U.S. sales in October compared with a year ago, and Honda Motor Co. 7267.TO -3.47% and General Motors Co GM +0.92% . logged smaller increases. Like Volvo, Nissan Motor Co. 7201.TO -1.13% stood out for reporting lower sales, down 3.2% to 79,685 vehicles, which it linked to an East Coast hurricane.

Volvo said it sold 5.9% fewer cars world-wide in the first 10 months against a year ago, including a 10.6% decline in Europe and a 7.3% decline in China.

Last month, Volvo said it would cut the number of cars made at its factory in Ghent, Belgium, as well as halt a week's worth of production at its plant in Torslanda, Sweden, amid declining customer demand for its products. A month earlier, the company reported a first-half loss of 254 million kronor ($38 million) compared with a profit of 1.2 billion kronor in the same period a year earlier.

Write to Anna Molin at [email protected]
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