Major U.S. automakers reported significant sales growth last month, marking the largest gains in over two years and boosting the prospects for strong year-end performance through the holiday season.
United States car manufacturers posted major sales increases in November, with buyers purchasing new vehicles at the fastest rate since the "cash for clunkers"
program in August 2009. Lower fuel costs, rising consumer confidence, the need to replacing aging cars and the availability of attractive deals all contributed to the November boost.
"With analysts projecting that December will be even better, the industry is closing the year strong despite continued sluggishness in the nation's economy," the New York Times
notes. "Consumers and businesses are finding they can no longer put off replacing their vehicles, which are now an average of almost 11 years old, a record."
According to automotive-industry tracking firm Autodata
, U.S. light vehicle sales including passenger cars and light trucks rose to 994,721 in November, a 13.9 percent increase over November 2010
. Sales totaled 11.5 million units through the first 11 months of the year, 10.4 percent more than in the same period last year.
Moreover, the industry's annualized selling rate (seasonally adjusted) climbed to 13.63 million vehicles in November, the highest level in more than two years.
The largest gains last month were by Chrysler Group LLC
, which last week reported a sales total of 107,172, a 45 percent increase over the same month in 2010 and the sixth consecutive month of sales gains exceeding 20 percent. So far this year, Chrysler has sold 1.23 million vehicles, up 25 percent over the same period last year.
"November was another huge month for the Chrysler Group and our highest year-over-year sales gain of 2011," Reid Bigland, president and CEO of the Dodge brand and head of Chrysler's U.S. sales, said in an announcement of the results.
Meanwhile, Ford Motor Co.
sold 166,865 vehicles in November, a 13 percent increase over November 2010. Ford's November U.S. retail sales also increased 20 percent over the prior year, the company's largest year-over-year gain in nine months. So far this year, Ford has sold 1.94 million units, 11.1 percent more than in the same period in 2010. The company plans to increase vehicle production in the first quarter of 2012 by 3 percent.
"[C]onsumers continue to value fuel economy no matter what size or kind of vehicle best meets their needs," Ken Czubay, vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service at Ford, said in a release of the findings. "Most Ford products deliver best-in-class fuel economy and provide customers an opportunity to choose what best works for them EcoBoost technology or electrified vehicles."
General Motors Co.
last week reported November sales of 180,402 vehicles, up 7 percent from November 2010. Retail sales were up 15 percent year-over-year, while fleet sales fell 14 percent. So far this year, GM has sold 2.27 million vehicles, 14 percent more than during the same period last year.
"We are seeing a broad spectrum of customers return to the market," Don Johnson, GM's vice president of U.S. sales operations, said in an announcement
. "Truck sales showed a very solid increase, as we expected, but the momentum building behind our most fuel-efficient vehicles was even stronger."
The strong sales performance among U.S. automakers last month indicates that the automotive industry has rebounded from its recessionary low and the economy as a whole is benefiting from increased consumer demand and spending.
"Excluding the Clunkers spike, it was the best month since before the financial market meltdown in September 2008. Industry experts said buyers appear ready to finally look past the various uncertainties in the general economy and start buying cars once again," CNN.com
reports. "November sales gains were led by domestic automakers, which are in position to all gain market share in the same year for the first time in decades."
Sales gains weren't confined to domestic car manufacturers, as Toyota Motor Co.
, the world's largest automaker, also posted growth in November, with U.S. sales rising to 137,960 units, a 6.7 percent unadjusted increase over November 2010. So far this year, Toyota has sold 1.47 million vehicles, down 7.5 percent from the same period in 2010.
"A better selection of cars at Toyota showrooms also brought more shoppers back into the market. Many buyers spent the summer waiting for those inventories to improve after the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan squeezed supplies," the Associated Press
With November sales of 85,182 units in the U.S., Nissan Motor Co.
last week reported a 19.4 percent year-over-year increase. Meanwhile, Honda Motor Co.
sales fell to 83,925, a 10.1 decrease, largely due to flooding in Thailand that disrupted the company's North American production rates.
"Cash for Clunkers" Closes Out
Auto Sales Make Gains in November
Americans Flock to Car Showrooms with Wallets Open
by Nick Bunkley
The New York Times, Dec. 1, 2011
U.S. Market Light Vehicle Deliveries November 2011
Autodata.com, Dec. 1, 2011
Chrysler Group LLC Reports November 2011 U.S. Sales Increased 45 Percent...
Chrysler Group LLC, Dec. 1, 2011
November U.S. Retail Sales up 20 Percent for Ford Motor Company...
Ford Motor Co., Dec. 1, 2011
GM U.S. Deliveries for November 2011 Divisional Brand Level
General Motors Co., Dec. 1, 2011
GM's U.S. Sales up 7 Percent in November
General Motors Co., Dec. 1, 2011
Toyota Reports November 2011 Sales
Toyota Motor Co., Dec. 1, 2011
Chilly November? Not for U.S. Car Sales
by Dee-Ann Durbin and Tom Krisher
The Associated Press, Dec. 1, 2011
Nissan North America Reports 19.4% Increase in November Sales
Nissan Motor Co., Dec. 1, 2011
American Honda Reports November Sales
Honda Motor Co., Dec. 1, 2011