November Car Sales Ride Tailwind of Hurricane Recovery

November Car Sales Ride Tailwind of Hurricane Recovery

Hurricane Sandy blew away some October car sales, but, as expected, the payback was big in November. Consumers in the Northeast headed to dealer showrooms to buy the vehicles they intended to purchase in October and to replace ones damaged or destroyed by the hurricane. The storm recovery, combined with continued unleashing of pent-up demand supported by readily available credit and a host of new products, pushed the sales rate to its highest level since February 2008.

November car sales totaled 1.142 million vehicles, a 15-percent increase from November 2011 and a 5-percent rise from October. That pushed the Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate (SAAR) of sales to 15.5 million vehicles, the highest monthly SAAR since pre-Lehman Brothers collapse and recession early 2008.

Hurricane Sandy recovery in November benefitted automakers with the biggest presence in the Northeast, with Honda being No. 1. Indeed, November was a record-setter for Honda, which also hit its stride with new models including the CR-V, Accord and quickly freshened Civic. Toyota, Nissan and Volkswagen, which also rely heavily on sales in the Northeast, had extremely strong months. Volkswagen said sales in the Northeast soared 40 percent above a year ago whereas its total sales climbed 39 percent.

In addition to Hurricane Sandy, year-end deals and accompanying marketing started even earlier this year than last. The actual incentives spending didn't increase all that much. estimates the average per-vehicle incentive in November totaled $2,244 per vehicle, up only $64 from October and down $28 per vehicle from last November. But the ad spending is significant and loud.

Automakers and analysts expect a strong December due to all of the same factors they have driven the U.S. auto industry all year - unleashing of pent-up demand, available credit, great product choices - along with the continued benefits of Hurricane Sandy's recovery and aggressive product promotions, particularly for luxury cars and pickup trucks. "We're teed up for a strong year-end close," said Senior Analyst Jessica Caldwell.

And what about the prospects of U.S. falling off the fiscal cliff? What cliff, American consumers seem to be saying. They are continuing to shop at malls and at dealerships. "We're seeing no impact," said Caldwell. "There's an inherent need for consumers to buy cars."

Automakers generally agree predicting 2013 will still even higher sales, how much higher than 2012 depends on Congress and the White House resolving the fiscal cliff issue and the economy continuing to improve, they say.

2013 Cadillac ATS

General Motors: GM reported its highest November sales since 2007 with sales up 3 percent to 186,505 vehicles. Still, GM's sales were lower than forecasted due to truck sales that were weaker than even the automaker predicted. estimated GM sales would come in at 190,236 vehicles for a nearly 6-percent rise.

Chevrolet sales were flat from a year ago. GM sales were up a scant 1 percent. Buick sales rose 22 percent and Cadillac sales climbed 30 percent. Buick and Cadillac had their best November sales since 2006 and 2007, respectively.

Buick sales were paced by the freshened Enclave crossover and buoyed by sales of the Verano, at 3,574 units, a car that wasn't on the market a year ago. Regal sales plummeted 48 percent; Lacrosse sales dipped 5 percent.

The new Cadillac ATS, on sale since late summer, pitched in 2,152 units of sales; the XTS, on sale since June, added 2,414 units. CTS sales fell 26 percent; SRX crossover sales were up 13 percent. Cadillac executives said 20 percent of ATS sales are taking a CTS as a trade-in but 50 percent are conquest sales coming primarily from Mercedes-Benz and BMW.

Chevrolet was buoyed by car sales plus Equinox: Cruze, up 27 percent to 16,806 vehicles; Equinox, up 13 percent to 16,821 units; Sonic, up 12 percent to 5,016 vehicles; and Spark added 1,709 vehicles. Malibu, revamped this year, was roughly flat at 10,227 units. Volt sales were up from a year ago at 1,519 vehicles but supply is tight for the extended-range plug-in hybrid.

GM explained away lower truck sales, when Ford and Chrysler truck sales were up double digits, with a number of reasons. GM scaled back on incentives when its competitors raised theirs. GM started its 2013 model year for the GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado 45 days earlier than last year, earlier than domestic competitors. As a result, GM's truck sales are a richer mix of 2013 models, which are not discounted, than heavily discounted 2012 models.

After repeated questions about lower truck sales on GM's monthly sales call, GM North America Vice President Mark Reuss piped in, saying quick matching of competitor's incentives is "highly ineffective because dealers can't get behind them to make an impact." He added GM is looking at long-term strategy versus quick incentive adjustments to match others on a short-term basis.

GM hinted it would be "competitive" in marketing this month and did not rule out production cuts as its inventory, especially truck inventories, will be beyond its target at year-end. Next Thursday, GM unveils to the press the next-generation pickup trucks that will be displayed at January's Detroit auto show and on sale in mid-2013. GM now has the oldest full-size pickups in the segment. "December should be all-new ball game as December typically is one of best months for Silverado and Sierra," said Kurt McNeil, vice president of U.S. sales operations.

The picture was brighter on the car and utility side of GM's ledger. GM car sales rose 19 percent: Cadillac car sales were up 77 percent; Buick's up 22 percent; Chevrolet's up 13 percent. Crossover sales were led by a 44 percent increase for the GMC Terrain, a 23 percent increase for the Buick Enclave, and a 13 percent increase for both the Chevrolet Equinox and the Cadillac SRX.

"In November, we saw strong car and crossover sales and we continue to make inroads with younger customers, import drivers and buyers focused on fuel economy," said McNeil, vice president of U.S. sales operations. "Sales at Cadillac and Buick are benefiting from the buzz generated by new products, including the Buick Verano, Cadillac XTS and Cadillac ATS."

For the first 11 months of the year, GM sales are up 4 percent to 2,349,984 vehicles.

2011 Ford Grand C-Max

Ford: Ford Motor Co. reported sales of 177,673 in November, a gain of 6 percent compared with November, 2011. The company stressed a comparatively strong showing from its new C-Max line of hybrid and plug-in hybrid hatchback utility vehicles; sales of 4,848 C-Max models made November Ford's best-ever month for electrified vehicles, the company said.

Apart from the incremental sales delivered by the new C-Max models, Ford's volumes in November were boosted mainly by a solid 17.9-percent gain for the F-Series pickup line, where 56,299 sales marked the fourth consecutive month in 2012 in which F-Series sales topped 50,000 units. The F-Series ended the first 11 months 11.6 percent ahead of the same period last year and was tracking to easily surpass 600,000 sales for the year. And save the discontinued Ranger pickup, all of Ford's other truck lines improved sales in November.

On the passenger-car side of the showroom, sales were up 15.2 percent, driven by the C-Max and a sharp 56-percent gain for the Focus compact car, to 18,312 units that made the Focus the brand's best-selling car in November. Sales for the normally strong Fusion were off a startling 24 percent to 15,125, though, despite the presence of the new-generation 2013 model. Ford said except for the C-Max, the Fusion has the fastest turn rate in its line-up. The regular Fusion sells in about 12 days; the hybrid in only seven. Sales for the Mustang were up 37.4 percent to 5,309, the Taurus improved sales by 4.9 percent to 5,142 and the Fiesta subcompact was up 3.8 percent to 3,688 sales, although Fiesta year-to-date sales remained off by a noticeable 21.2 percent.

It was a mixed month for Ford's normally strong utility vehicles, with overall sales up just 1.4 percent and the stalwart Escape nameplate slipping 3.9 percent, although any competitor would gladly take Escape's 20,970 sales in November. The Explorer midsizer helped balance the smaller Escape's slide, however, posting 14,456 sales for a 12.2-percent gain. The Edge chipped in a solid 10,142 sales for a 4.7-percent improvement, while the Flex wagon flagged to just 1,648 sales, a 23.8-percent dive.

At Lincoln, November sales were led by the MKZ midsize sedan, although its 1,335 units nonetheless represented a 35.9-percent decline. The MKS flagship posted a 4.7-percent gain for the month on 1,065 sales. The MKT crossover jumped 65.7 percent to 537 units and the MKX midsize crossover was the brand's best-seller for the month with 2,108 sales, a 6.3-percent gain.

With just a month of sales left in 2012, the November figures put total Ford (including the Lincoln luxury-car division) year-to-date sales at 2,035,943, 5 percent ahead of the first 11 months of last year. Ford division sales were up 7.1 percent in November, but Lincoln sales were off by 9.1 percent - leaving Lincoln down 3.2 percent compared to the luxury-car division's modest volume of 77,240 units for the first 11 months of last year.

2013 Scion FR-S

Toyota: Toyota Motor Sales USA reported November sales of 161,695, an increase of 17.2 percent compared with November, 2011. Company sales executives said part of Toyota's - and the industry's - strong performance was borne by replacement of vehicles damaged by hurricane Sandy, but also could be attributed to release of pent-up demand and, readily available and low-rate financing and "exciting new products."

Only two Toyota-brand cars had sales declines in November, with the redesigned Yaris sliding 60.8 percent to 2,194 sales and the Avalon large car, which is being replaced this month, dropping to 1,307 sales for a 40.3-percent decline. The Camry, the brand's usual best-seller, was up 22.7 percent on a solid 28,765 sales. The Corolla compact car gained 20.3 percent to 22,616 sales and the Prius hybrid was up 8.5 percent to 16,505.

The Scion small-car unit's total sales were up a substantial 57.8 percent compared with November, 2011, thanks largely to 1,350 incremental sales of the new FR-S coupe, which nearly was the brand's best-seller for the month. Scion's xB was up 11.6 percent to 1,341 sales, but the tC coupe dropped 5.4 percent to 1,493 deliveries, it sales perhaps the victim of the new FR-S.

Every Toyota crossover/SUV model posted a sales gain in November, led in volume by the RAV4 compact crossover (its all-new replacement was unveiled in late November at the Los Angeles auto show), where 12,423 sales represented a 9.6-percent increase - and a 33.3-percent year-to-date sales gain. The Highlander crossover was up 13.2 percent to 9,474 sales and Toyota's Sienna minivan was up 11.9 percent, finding 8,854 buyers.

Toyota also enjoyed a strong November from its two pickup truck models. The Tacoma midsizer racked up 12,272 sales for a 26-percent increase and the Tundra full-size pickup was up 31.6 percent to 8,309 sales.

At the Lexus premium-vehicle unit, sales improved by 16.8 percent in November, with cars up 18.2 percent and trucks up 15 percent. The RX midsize crossover once again was the brand's best-seller, its 8,871 sales marking a 17-percent gain compared with last November. The low-volume LX was up 45.3 percent but the GX midsize SUV dropped 6.8 percent to 1,003 sales.

Lexus' larger cars prevailed over smaller models, with the ES, GS and LS gaining by 28.2 percent, 786.4 percent and 37.2 percent, respectively. The CT compact hatchback declined 28.1 percent to 1,264 sales and 1,988 buyers chose the rear-drive IS sedan, a 25.7-percent drop.

Fiat 500

Chrysler: Chrysler Group reported November sales of 122,565 units, a 14-percent increase from November 2011 for the automaker's best November sales since 2007 and its 32nd consecutive month of year-over-year increase. Sales came in a tad higher than anticipated. forecasted sales of 120,965 vehicles for a 13-percent hike.

All but the Jeep brand, which is the midst of eliminating some of its models, posted year-over-year gains from a year ago. Jeep was down 3 percent, largely due to the end of the Jeep Liberty in August, the 36-percent decline for the Compass, which had triple-digit sales increases last year for a difficult comparison, and aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in the Northeast, one of Jeep's strongest markets.

Wrangler sales set a November record with a 12-percent increase. Grand Cherokee had its best November since 2005 and its second best month this year. Jeep Patriot, with sales up 4 percent, had its best November since 2007.

Fiat sales soared 123 percent from last year, with the Fiat 500 setting a sales record for the month. Fiat is expanding its line with new 500 variants.

Dodge sales jumped 32 percent from a year ago for the brand's best November since 2007. Reporting higher sales were the: Dodge Journey, up 77 percent for a new November sales record; Dodge Grand Caravan minivan, up 24 percent; and Dodge Avenger up 26 percent for its best November. The Dodge Dart appears to be struggling to gain serious traction. Durango sales rose 4 percent.

Chrysler's first small car since the Dodge Neon posted sales over 5,000 units in the past two months but fell to 4,489 units in November despite small-car sales having an unseasonably strong month. The Dart is in tight supply but likely due to low production, not high demand. Chrysler sales chief Reid Bigland has repeatedly expressed optimism, noting at last week's Los Angeles auto show Chrysler is "in a good spot" with Dart. He noted that the average transaction price for a Dart is more than $22,000, the highest average transaction price in the compact car segment. That is more than $5,000 higher than the Caliber, Dodge's previous compact car offering. "We expect Dart sales to increase as we continue to deliver a more optimal mix of manuals, automatics, and packaging options," he said.

Ram truck sales were up 23 percent from a year ago for the trucks' best November since 2007. However, about 90 percent of those sales were of the old version, not the new 2013 model, with the old one heavily discounted. The Ram Cargo Van sales skyrocketed 226 percent, setting a November sales record.

Chrysler brand sales were up a scant 1 percent but still posted the brand posted its best November since 2008. Chrysler 300 sales rose 17 percent; Town & Country minivan sales were up 3 percent for its best November since 2009. Sales of the 200 were off 9 percent.

For the first 11 months, Chrysler has sold 1,499,420 vehicles, a 22-percent increase from a year ago. Truck sales for the year have climbed 15 percent; cars are up 42 percent.

2013 Honda Accord

Honda: American Honda reported sales of 116,580 in November, an increase of 38.9 percent compared with November, 2011. It was an all-time November high for Honda in the U.S. as sales for the company's all-new Accord nearly doubled sales, the CR-V crossover set its ninth monthly sales record of the year and the oft-underperforming Acura upscale division was buoyed yet again by the strength of its two crossover models. Nor were Honda's outsized gains coming in comparison with the earthquake-induced, supply-ravaged months of 2011.

"We are now surpassing sales records set pre-recession, a true sign that our business has recovered," said John Mendel, American Honda executive vice president of sales, said in a statement. "Honda's all-time best November demonstrates the fundamental strength of our core products. The new Accord is hitting its stride, and with the new Civic now arriving in dealerships, we're ready for a strong finish to 2012."

The Accord and the Civic provided Honda with a formidable one-two punch in November: the Accord blasted off with an 82.8-percent gain on sales of 26,248 units, while the Civic - set for a substantial exterior and interior overhaul for 2013 models arriving soon in showrooms - was Honda's best-seller in a record-setting month with 30,075 sales, a 75.5-percent hike compared with November, 2011. An excess of 56,000 units for the pair was more than enough to carry Honda passenger cars for the month, but it was a good thing, as sales for the aging Fit subcompact were flat at 3,315 and volumes of Honda's two hybrid cars dwindled to nearly nothing: the Insight sedan was off 88.2 percent to 238 units and the CR-Z coupe managed 244 sales and a 20-percent slide.

The blistering pace set by Honda's CR-V carried the month for the company's utility vehicles, its 22,333 sales amounting to a 36-percent sales increase; year-to-date sales of 255,919 (+ 30 percent) put the CR-V on pace to potentially win the sales crown for its ultra-competitive segment. Sales were off 10.7 percent for the larger Pilot crossover, however, which found 9,366 buyers in November, while the Odyssey minivan was up 1.9 percent on 9,318 sales and the Ridgeline midsize pickup was up 38 percent on a meager 1,290 sales. The unacclaimed Crosstour wagon outsold the Ridgeline in November, posting 1907 sales for a plump 71.3-percent hike.

Product development, marketing and sales decision-makers for the Acura premium-vehicle unit must be scratching their heads yet again after November's sales results, which indicated Acura should forget cars and market only crossovers. Other than the 2,108 incremental sales from the new ILX compact car, every Acura car line saw a sales slide in November - and combined sales for Acura's two crossovers, the RDX and MDX, easily exceeded the total sales for Acura's four car lines. The redesigned RDX, one of the unexpected stars of 2012, had sales of 3,036, a leap of 129 percent compared with November, 2011, while the larger MDX, although up just 1.8 percent, sold 3,368 units. For the year, the RDX is up 87.2 percent to 25,496 sales.

For the first 11 months, Honda's total sales were up 23.8 percent to 1,290,011. Within that total, the Acura unit was up 27.2 percent to 140,182 sales.

2013 Nissan Pathfinder

Nissan: Nissan North America, including the Nissan and Infiniti brands, delivered the biggest upside surprise in November. Sales totaled 96,197 vehicles, for a 13-percent hike in sales. forecasted Nissan sales at 88,573 vehicles, for a 4-percent rise. Senior Analyst Jessica Caldwell said Nissan's momentum was evident in the third week and expected to cool by month's end, but it didn't.

Nissan Division finished the month at 84,300 vehicles sold, up 10 percent from a year. Infiniti sales closed up 41 percent at 11,897 vehicles. Both brands set new November sales records.

Much of Nissan's performance was due to the quick recovery from Hurricane Sandy in the Northeast, an area that accounts for 27 percent of all Nissan sales and 50 percent of Infiniti sales. Nissan and Infiniti is offering employee pricing to customers in the Northeast hit by the storm. The deal ends early January but could be extended if it appears that insurance checks are slow to be issued.

In addition, Nissan has launched a number of new models. The new Sentra compact just went on sale. During November, the old model was in sell-down so sales were off 9 percent. Nissan Division General Manager Al Castignetti told that Nissan's Achilles heel has been the Sentra, which wasn't as strong as the Corolla is to Toyota and Civic is to Honda. "The Sentra never filled the role that Civic and Corolla did but this is a groundbreaking vehicle that allows us the same opportunity," he said.

Another groundbreaker is the Pathfinder, which in its new version shifted from body-on-frame to a car-like unibody. Sales rose 250 percent to 8,097 units. , led by the all-new 2013 Pathfinder that went on sale in November. "We've been waiting a long time for the unibody version. We've been competing with body-on-frame in a segment that doesn't want it so this is a huge opportunity for us."

Meantime, Nissan launched the new Altima midsizer in June, and its sales actually dipped 2 percent to 20,305 units sold. While the inventory pipeline is mostly filled, Castignetti said unexpectedly the most expensive technology package on the vehicle is in short supply as demand has outstripped expectations.

The all-electric Leaf had a 129-percent sales increase to 1,539 units, rivaling the Chevrolet Volt. Rogue crossover sales set a new November record of 12,662 sold, up 17 percent. Other models posting increases were the Cube, Juke, GT-R and Armada. Reporting declines were the Versa, Maxima and trucks, including Frontier and Titan.

Infiniti "came roaring back in the Northeast for sure," noted Infiniti Vice President Ben Poore to QX sales were up 47 percent at 2,121 units; JX sales kicked in 2,529 sales; G sales rose 7 percent to 4,838 units.

Both executives expect a very strong December to close out a strong year for Nissan. For the first 11 months this year, Nissan/Infiniti sales are up 11 percent at 1,042,366 vehicles. Nissan sales are up 10 percent to 935,116 vehicles; Infiniti is up 23 percent at 107,250 vehicles.

Hyundai: Hyundai Motor America reported sales of 53,487 in November, an 8-percent increase that propelled the brand to its best-ever sales for November in the U.S. as the company suggested replacements for vehicles damaged in hurricane Sandy and wide-ranging promotions after Thanksgiving were factors for the month's strong performance.

Sales for the month were mixed, but November's gain was carried by solid increases for Hyundai's two high-volume car lines. The Sonata midsize sedan pulled in with a 13-percent gain to 17,660 sales, making it the brand's best-selling model for the month. Not far behind was the Elantra compact car and its 15,923 sales, good for a 28-percent jump compared to November, 2011. The all-new Azera large car appears to have found appeal with a narrow audience, given its 751 November sales amounted to a 1,295-percent gain compared with last year.

On the passenger-car part of the showroom, Hyundai's top two were balanced by a 30-percent drop for the Accent subcompact, to 3,260 sales, as well as an 18-percent slide for the Veloster sport coupe (to 2,084 sales), a 12-percent slip for the Genesis lineup, as some of Hyundai's higher-economy models may have suffered consumer blowback from the brand's November admission that it inflated rated fuel economy for several models, including a handful touted as having 40 miles-per-gallon highway ratings.

Hyundai's crossovers also were mixed in November. The redesigned Santa Fe midsizer pulled in with a 10-percent gain to 6,754 sales, but the Tucson compact crossover posted a 6.5-percent loss to 3,838 units. The Veracruz fullsizer dropped 52 percent to 491 sales.

Kia: Kia Motors America reported sales of 41,055 in November, a 10.9-percent increase compared with November, 2011 and the best-ever November for Kia. The month also marked 27 consecutive months of sales records and pushed the brand over the half-million sales mark in U.S. sales for the first time.

Kia's best performer continued to be the assertively styled Optima midsize sedan; November sales of 12,715, a 33-percent leap over last November. The Sorento midsize crossover posted a 12 percent gain on sales of 10,851. The Rio subcompact car found 2,494 buyers for a 16-percent gain and the Forte compact car - with a restyled model pending - posted a modest gain of 3 percent on 4,266 sales, while the still-popular Soul compact hatchback had a gain of 6 percent to 7,257 units.

Off the pace for Kia in November were the Sedona minivan, down 13 percent to a slim 1,203 sales, and the Sportage compact crossover, for which 2,269 sales amounted to a 29.5-percent slide.

Volkswagen: This year is proving to be a very good year for Volkswagen of America, the best since 1973, a time of the oil crises, long gasoline lines and pre-Japanese automaker onslaught. Volkswagen's November car sales totaled 36,728 cars and crossovers, a 29-percent increase from a year ago and the German automaker's best November since 1973. The "best since 1973" refrain has been repeated throughout the year. November also marked the 27th consecutive month of year-on-year sales increase, but Jonathan Browning, president and CEO of Volkswagen of America, warned the size of those percentage increases soon will not be as big.

Volkswagen also benefitted from the Hurricane Sandy recovery. Volkswagen's sales in its all-important New York-New Jersey region, hit by the storm, soared 40 percent from a year ago. "November was again a strong month for Volkswagen with a sales increase of over 29 percent on the heels of the global debut of the all-new Beetle Convertible at the LA Auto Show," said Browning in a conference call. "Significantly, the brand is now more than 100,000 units ahead of where we were this time last year. This is a testament to the appeal of our affordable German engineered vehicles and the strength of our dealer network."

The Tennessee-built Passat sedan and Tiguan crossover had their best November and their best years so far. Passat sales returned to hitting more than 10,000 units in a month — 10,544 to be exact — 75 percent from a year ago. Tiguan sales rose 52 percent to 1,068 units. Jetta sales were up 11 percent to 14,259 units. Other key models posting increases were the; Golf, up 15 percent; Beetle, up 20 percent; and Touareg, up 27 percent. Diesels represented 20 percent of Volkswagen sales in November; and 21 percent of sales so far this year.

For the year so far, Volkswagen sales have totaled 394,128 vehicles, for a 35-percent increase.

BMW: The BMW Group in the U.S. reported combined BMW and Mini sales of 36,461 in November, an increase of 38.8 percent compared with November, 2011. With a month of sales remaining for 2012, BMW was battling with rival Mercedes-Benz to be the No. 1 brand in U.S. luxury-car sales. November's total brought BMW's sales to 303,728 compared with Mercedes-Benz' through-November sales to 273,622, which included Mercedes' smart and Sprinter sales divisions. Disregarding their affiliated sales divisions and comparing sales for just the Mercedes and BMW brands through November, BMW sold 244,061 vehicles and Mercedes sold 245,910 vehicles.

Excluding Mini, the BMW brand was up 45 percent in November, as now-typical holiday-related incentive programs kicked into high gear. Sales for every BMW car line save the 1- and 7-Series were up for the month, led by a 64.3-percent gain for the 5-Series midsize sedan, which posted 5,587 sales. BMW's volume leader for the month, however, was by a long stretch the 3-Series compact sedan, which racked up a healthy 10,776 sales and a 42.4-percent hike over November, 2011. BMW also enjoyed a boost of 2,088 incremental sales from the all-new X1 compact crossover, sales for which BMW inexplicably reports with its car lines.

All of BMW's other X crossover models reported sales gains in November. The high-volume X3 was up a healthy 50.5 percent to 4,172 surpassed only by the 4,801 sales of the larger X5, which marked a 6.8-percent improvement. The X6 was up 55.2 percent to 813 sales.

BMW had just two decliners in November, bracketing the brand's passenger-car lineup. The entry-level 1-Series slid 6.8 percent to 619 sales and the flagship 7-Series also dropped, off 23.5 percent on 939 deliveries.

For the seemingly ever-expanding Mini small-car brand, total sales in November were up 10.5 percent, with the Mini Coupe being the brand's only declining model, off 47.9 percent. The Cooper Convertible and Clubman models were up respectively by 19.9 percent and 20.6 percent, while the best-selling Cooper hardtop models were up 4.5 percent to 2,490 sales. The all-new Roadster model kicked in with 198 incremental sales, bringing Mini's year-to-date sales total to 59,667 units, a gain of 15.2 percent compared with the first 11 months of last year.

Mercedes-Benz: Mercedes-Benz USA reported sales of 32,649 Mercedes-Benz, smart and Sprinter models in November, a 15.6-percent increase compared with November, 2011 and the best-ever November for Mercedes, which, with a month of sales remaining for 2012, was locked in a tussle with rival BMW to be the No. 1 brand in U.S. luxury-car sales. November's total brought Mercedes' year-to-date sales to 273,622; BMW's sales through November were 303,728. Disregarding their affiliated sales divisions and comparing sales for just the Mercedes and BMW brands through November, Mercedes sold 245,910 vehicles and BMW sold 244,061.

As year-end incentives agitated buyers in November, Mercedes enjoyed a plump 59.5-percent gain for its midsize E-Class lineup, which found 8,126 buyers, although the brand's best-selling model in November, the C-Class line, kicked in with a more modest 2.5-percent improvement on 8,565 sales.

Mercedes also enjoyed outsized gains from several low-volume models. Sales for the SL hardtop roadster, for example, exploded by 625 percent on a volume of 573 sales. And 251 sales of the rugged G-Class SUV meant a 325-percent improvement compared with November, 2011. The SLK roadster was up 107.3 percent on 427 sales and the GLK compact crossover posted 3,276 sales for a 33-percent hike.

Sales were off in November for Mercedes' stalwart M-Class midsize crossover, which endured an 18.8-percent slide to 3,894 sales, with the larger GL-Class down 4.9 percent to 3,077 deliveries. Low-volume decliners included the CL-Class, down 20.3 percent to 63 sales, the SLS AMG, off 83.4 percent to 28 units and the R-Class wagon, which found just seven buyers during the month.

Subaru: Subaru of America sounds like a broken record: indeed, it set yet-another record. November was the best November in the Japanese automaker's history in the U.S. and 2012 will be another record setter. In November, Subaru sold 28,206 vehicles, a 60-percent increase from a year ago.

The Outback, Legacy and Impreza set new November records. Subaru sold 10,124 Outbacks for a 39-percent increase, 3,723 Legacy models, up 29 percent, and 4,552 Impreza cars, up 2401 percent. BRZ kicked in 527 sales; XV Crosstrek added 2,060 sales. Forester sales were off 2 percent to 5,703 units as the automaker winds down to make way for the new model, unveiled at the Los Angeles auto show in November. Tribeca sales also fell 29 percent to a scant 164 units.

For the year so far, Subaru sales have totaled a record-breaking 299,788 units, up 28 percent from a year ago. That puts Subaru just 222 vehicles shy of achieving 300,000 sales for the first time in history, a milestone it already has achieved in the early days of December.

"With such strong November sales, Subaru annual sales should exceed 330,000 vehicles — which would represent a 24 percent increase over our 2011 record sales of 266,989 vehicles," said Thomas J. Doll, executive vice president and COO, Subaru of America, Inc. "This has been another exciting, record-breaking month for Subaru."

Mazda: Mazda reported November U.S. sales of 21,691 vehicles, up 18 percent from a year ago.

Best November records were set by: Mazda2, up 212 percent to 2,495 cars sold; Mazda3, up 43 percent to 9,841 cars sold (Mazda's fuel-efficient Skyactive system accounted for 67 percent of Mazda3 sales); Mazda5, though that was down 14 percent from a year ago. Sales of the Mazda6, a model being replaced in 2013, were off 72 percent. The new Mazda CX-5 remained the automaker's best seller with 4,213 vehicles sold.

Year-to-date sales are up 9.1 percent to 249,795 vehicles sold.

Audi: Audi reported its 23rd consecutive month of record sales with November volume reaching 12,067 cars and SUVs, up 24 percent form a year ago, ensuring a record year. November also marked the fourth-best month in Audi of America history.

Sales of the vehicles in the Audi premium category — A8 (up 18 percent to 541 units), A7 (up 4 percent to 653 units), A6 (up 16 percent to 1,594 units) and Q7 (up 92 percent to 1,161 units) — accounted for 33 percent of Audi's November sales, up from the 19 percent premium vehicle sales mix seen in 2009. Overall sales of the top-end Audi models jumped 28 percent in November. Sales of the Audi Q5 were up 14 percent to 2,724 units, the second best month of the always capacity-constrained Q5 sales in Audi history. The freshened A4, Audi's volume leader, had sales of 3,343 cars, up 34 percent, with the new allroad posting 437 sales compared to 228 a year earlier for the Audi A4 Avant that it replaced. A4 sedan sales rose 28 percent. A5 sales soared 39 percent; A5 coupe sales climbed 54 percent. TT sales rose 32 percent. Only the A3 and R8 posted lower sales than a year ago.

For the year so far, Audi has sold 124,469 vehicles, up 19 percent from the same period a year ago.

Jaguar Land Rover: Jaguar Land Rover North America reported sales of 4,400 luxury cars and SUVs, down 7 percent from a year ago. Land Rover sales totaled 3,687 SUVs, down 3 percent. Range Rover Sport was the volume leader with 1,634 units sold, making November the highest selling month for Range Rover Sport year to date. Sales for Range Rover Evoque were up 35 percent with 904 units sold; making November the highest retail month for Range Rover Evoque since its launch last October. Jaguar sales were 713 cars, down 22 percent. The volume leader for the month is the Jaguar XF with 341 sales, down 21 percent from 429 in 2011.

"The all-new Range Rover and the AWD Jaguar XJ and XF will be in showrooms this winter," said Andy Goss, President, Jaguar Land Rover, North America. "While November proved to a challenging month due to current product run down and increasing competitor's incentive offerings, we anticipate improved sales performance once the new products arrive in showrooms."

For the year so far, Jaguar Land Rover sales are up 11 percent from the same 2011 period; Land Rover sales are up 15 percent and Jaguar sales are down 1 percent for the year to date.

Volvo: Volvo Cars of North America reported U.S. sales of 6,141 units, up 27 percent from November 2011. The top seller for November was the XC60 crossover with 2,067 units sold, up 167 percent. The S60 sports sedan finished the month right behind with 1,866 units sold, up 5 percent. XC70 sales were up 41 percent to 594 units; S80 sales were up 19 percent to 265 units. The rest of Volvo's line posted declines. Year-to-date, Volvo sales are about flat at 61,967 vehicles sold — up 0.1 percent — over the first eleven months of 2011.

Porsche: Porsche Cars North America, Inc. posted record sales of 3,865 vehicles, up 71 percent from a year ago. November marked the best sales month ever for Porsche. Every Porsche line posted an increase. Sales of the 911 increased by 94 percent; and Cayenne sales rose 80 percent. The new diesel and GTS versions account for 38 percent of all Cayenne sales.

"Setting a historical monthly U.S. sales record is extremely rewarding and demonstrates the demand for all of the new cars we have launched in the last 12 months," said Detlev von Platen, President and CEO, Porsche Cars North America. "We see this demand continuing into the near future and may allow us to set a sales record this year. Our product line-up is the freshest in our history and will remain so, evidenced by the global unveil of the all-new Cayman model at (November's) Los Angeles Auto Show."

For the year, Porsche has sold 32,091 cars in the U.S., an 18 percent increase over the same period last year when 27,189 cars were sold.

Mitsubishi: Mitsubishi Motors North America reported November sales of 3,574 vehicles, down 4 percent from November 2011. The decline is attributed to models that ended their production in 2011. Total sales of models currently in production were up more than 16 percent for the month compared to last November, Mitsubishi said. Sales of the Outlander sport rose 34 percent to 1,520 units, the fourth highest month this year for the Illinois-built crossover.

"We are encouraged at the consistent sales performance of the Outlander Sport, our top seller in the U.S," said MMNA President & CEO Yoichi Yokozawa. "It bodes well for our next generation 2014 Outlander, which we unveiled to the U.S. media (at the Los Angeles auto show in November.)"

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