Floodwaters in and around Houston severely damaged or destroyed hundreds of thousands of cars and trucks, most of which will be replaced. Those new and used vehicle sales will benefit automakers and the economy, providing a glint of silver lining amid terrible tragedy.
The storm “is the worst in terms of vehicle damage in history,” said Jonathan Smoke, chief economist at Cox Automotive.
Between 300,000 and 500,000 passenger vehicles were destroyed or damaged in the Houston metropolitan area alone, Smoke said; translated into dollars, that’s between $2.7 billion and $4.9 billion.
Figures did not include vehicles on Houston-area dealer lots, which are now being...