With General Motors and Volkswagen AG leading the way, the U.S. auto industry busted out of a mini-slump in November, albeit with some help from major promotions.
GM’s total U.S. sales in November were up more than 10% over last year as Buick, Cadillac and GMC posted double-digit gains.
“GM’s November performance reflects the continued strength of our U.S. business. We gained profitable retail share, commercial and small business deliveries were strong and we commanded the industry’s best average transaction prices,” said Kurt McNeil, GM’s vice president of U.S. Sales Operations.
GM’s average transaction price, which reflect retail transaction prices after sales incentives, were $35,767 in November, more than $4,000 above the industry average and ahead of last November. The company continues to benefit from a strong U.S. economy and strong retail demand for its products, GM officials said.
“All economic indicators show significantly improved optimism about the U.S. economy including consumer and business sentiment, which continue to drive a very healthy U.S. auto industry,” said Mustafa Mohatarem, GM’s chief economist.
“We believe the U.S. auto industry is well positioned for sales to continue at or near record levels into 2017,” he added.
However, the biggest November surprise may be the results beleaguered German automaker Volkswagen turned in. Volkswagen of America Inc. reported a 24% increase in sales during November thanks to a strong showing by the Golf SportWagen line, which increased by more than 200% over November 2015.
The company’s luxury unit, Audi, also recorded a sales increase for the 71st month in a row and continues to be unaffected by the woes of its parent company.
“On the heels of a successful November, we are on pace to achieve our seventh consecutive record sales year,” said Mark Del Rosso, chief operating officer, Audi of America. “We are confident that our momentum will continue in 2017, which promises to be one of the biggest launch years in Audi of America history.”
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Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V., however, said its sales dropped 14% compared with sales in November 2015 as it adjusted its sales strategy to reduce deliveries to rental fleets.
FCA US retail sales of 126,780 units were down 2% year over year in November, representing 79% of total sales for the month. Fleet sales of 34,047 units were down 42% year over year in November as FCA US continues to reduce its sales to the daily rental segment. Fleet sales represented 21% of total FCA US sales in the month.
FCA was also hobbled by the slow start to the sales of the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica, which still has yet to match the sales performance of the Chrysler Town & Country minivan, which has been phased out. FCA said sales of the Pacifica increased by 13% in November, compared to the previous month as FCA sold 8,753. However, FCA sold a total 12,532 Town & Countrys in November 2015.
Ford Motor Co. on the other had rode its most popular vehicle, the F-Series pickup truck, to a 5% sales gain in November, which was driven by a 10% gain in retail sales, the automaker noted.
“Strong retail sales increases for both F-150 and our all-new Super Duty pickups drove F-Series above the 70,000-vehicle mark – a November threshold we have not seen in 15 years,” said Mark LaNeve, vice president, U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service.
“Plus, strong consumer demand for well-equipped Super Dutys helped boost Ford’s overall average transaction prices in November, which are up $1,000 versus a year ago – well ahead of the industry average of $320.”
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Ford’s fleet sales, including daily rental, commercial and government segments, declined 9%, reflecting the company’s plan to front-load fleet sales this year. Ford brand SUV sales, on the other hand, increased by 20% increase and Lincoln sales increased 19%.
Toyota Motor Sales reported that its sales increase of 4.3% from November 2015 on a volume basis. With Toyota Division posting November sales of 168,595 units, up 5.3%
“We expect to see the industry set a new sales record for November,” said Bill Fay, group vice president and general manager of the Toyota Division. “All-time best-ever Highlander sales combined with November best ever RAV4 volume extends the Toyota Division’s 2016 streak of consecutive light truck sales records to 11 months,” he added.
Nissan Group announced an increase of 7.5% from the prior year and sets a November record. Nissan Division sales increased 8%, while Infiniti sales increased by 3.6%.
Kelley Blue Book estimated average transaction price for light vehicles in the United States was $34,948 in November 2016. New car prices have increased by 1.7% from November 2015, while dropping $51 0.1% from last month.
“Climbing transaction prices reflect the shift in consumer preference from cars to more expensive trucks and SUVs,” said Tim Fleming, analyst for Kelley Blue Book. “Manufacturers with strong truck and SUV lineups are currently seeing record pricing, especially in these late fall months when these segments are especially popular.
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“However, the subcompact utility segment, which is the fastest-growing segment in the industry this year, is showing signs of slowing, with prices falling by 1%, thanks to higher discounts used to sell down excess inventory,” he said.