November car sales, boosted by robust Thanksgiving weekend, appear to be coming in every bit as strong as analysts and automakers had projected. Edmunds.com forecasts when the final tally is completed Thursday, total November car sales will stand at 991,296 for a 14-percent increase from last November. That would put the November Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate (SAAR) of car sales at 13.6 million vehicles, the highest rate of the year and the highest since the Cash for Clunkers-incentivized August 2009.
General Motors, which expects the November SAAR to be close to 14 million vehicles, reported its sales were up 7 percent from a year ago to 180,402 vehicles sold. The automaker said retail — excluding fleet sales — rose 15 percent, on par with what Edmunds.com expects will be the increase for the entire industry. "We are seeing a broad spectrum of customers return to the market," said Don Johnson, vice president, U.S. Sales Operations. "Truck sales showed a very solid increase, as we expected, but the momentum building behind our most fuel-efficient vehicles was even stronger."
Indeed, it was a big truck month for GM with sales up 34 percent for the full-size Chevrolet Silverado and up 22 percent for its sibling, the GMC Sierra. Other GM trucks and truck-based SUVs also posted double-digit sales increases. Small cars also did well for GM, with the new Sonic off to a strong start. Chevrolet and GMC had higher sales than a year ago; Buick sales were lower as were sales for Cadillac, which is in the midst of a nearly full line transformation, had lower sales than a year ago.
Ford November sales totaled 166,865 vehicles, up 13 percent from a year ago. The Ford Escape crossover, which has led the fast-growing small ute category this year, sold a blistering 46 percent more than a year ago; the model gets replaced in 2012. The new Explorer also showed a whopping increase — up 217 percent. Sales of the midsize Fusion sedan were up 12 percent. Like GM and others, Ford had a big truck month with sales of the F-Series climbing 23 percent and the soon-to-be-gone Ranger up a hefty 86 percent. Lincoln, promised for a transformation, remained a drag on Ford overall with sales down 18 percent.
Chrysler's November vehicle sales of 107,172 units gained a hefty 45-percent increase from a year ago — its biggest percentage rise for the year and the biggest hike among the Big 6 automakers. It was Chrysler Group's best November sales since pre-bankruptcy 2007. Chrysler car sales more than doubled; Chrysler truck sales posted a double-digit increase. The Jeep brand continued to be the pace vehicle for the company, reporting its best sales since 2003. Chrysler brand sales soared 92 percent, the highest percentage increase of all four Chrysler brands. They were fueled by the midsize 200 sedan and the just-launched, full-size 300 sedan. Dodge sales rose 43 percent. The Fiat brand continues to struggle with only a scant 1,618 units of its sole model, the 500, sold in the month.
Nissan North American had a record November with sales up 19 percent to 85,182 units sold. Increases were largely across the board, from cars to trucks. Both the Nissan and Infiniti divisions saw increases. Within the Nissan brand, November records were set by the small Versa sedan and hatchback, the midsize Altima sedan and Rogue crossover.
Volkswagen, fueled by its newly introduced U.S.-built Passat, sold 28,412 vehicles for a 41-percent increase from a year ago. Named Motor Trend's Car of the Year last month, the Passat had sales of 6,018 units. Jetta sedan had 29 percent higher sales with the GTI, Golf and Eos also posting substantial double-digit gains.