With the top seven automakers reporting numbers, November auto sales have gained some 10 percent versus November 2012. Honda was the lone automaker to post a loss, and just -0.1 percent at that. Auto execs can toast with eggnog heading into the holidays, especially if they're at GM or Chrysler.
Buoyed by strong sales from its Jeep and Ram brands, Chrysler posted a 16.1 percent sales gain. Higher purchase incentives fueled the Ram pickup truck's 21.8 percent gain, outpacing increases from its competitors, the Ford F-Series and Chevrolet Silverado. Still, Detroit's full-size pickups gained 15.4 percent as the pickup wave keeps rolling. Jeep's increase was all about the Cherokee. November's numbers should assuage any doubts over the SUV's controversial styling. Chrysler moved 10,169 Cherokees last month, the crossover's first full month of sales. It's the fifth best-selling model among the automaker's cadre of brands — Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep, SRT and Ram — not too shabby for a model hampered by production delays with a nameplate that's been absent from the U.S. automotive landscape since 2001.
GM sales chief Kurt McNeil said in a statement that the economy "bodes well for future growth" as the General tacked on 13.7 percent last month. Ford added a modest 7.2 percent on the F-Series (up 16.3 percent) and Fusion (up 51 percent).
The Fusion's rise caps its third straight month of year-over-year sales gains of more than 50 percent, and it came versus a weak, inventory-strapped November 2012. Still, the popular family sedan needed no big incentives push this November to sail ahead. The Focus, by contrast, fell 16.8 percent versus a strong year-ago month. Ford dealers have a glut of them: Focus inventory started November at nearly four months' worth of the car. That's well past the industry's 77-day average, according to Automotive News.
It's a much different story for Honda. Civic sales fell 12.6 percent despite stable inventory and incentives; perhaps news of updates to the 2014 Civic, which arrives at dealerships this month, kept shoppers away from the outgoing car. John Mendel, vice president of sales at Honda, conceded in a statement some "very aggressive market actions by competitors in key high-volume segments." What actions? Try a redesigned Toyota Corolla and better purchase incentives on the Ford Focus and Chevrolet Cruze.
"Showroom traffic surged over the holiday weekend," Toyota division general manager Bill Fay said in the automaker's sales release. Nissan sales chief Fred Diaz, meanwhile, called it "a very good Black Friday weekend." Indeed, deals from various brands built on existing November programs, which were strong to begin with. Total discounts through the first half of the month amounted to 15.1 percent off MSRP, according to CNW Marketing Research. That's up versus all of November 2012 when discounts totaled 13.7 percent of MSRP, and it's the highest discount proportion in nearly two years, according to CNW. Still, rising sticker prices meant the average new car sold at $32,888 in the first half of the month. That's $689 more than in November 2012.
Here are November's top 10 best-sellers: