AUTO SALES LIVE: Auto industry rolls on; Chrysler, GM, Toyota, Nissan see double-digit gains

The Associated Press 0

The holiday weekend and an ongoing shift from cars to small SUVs boosted the auto industry in November.

Buyers took advantage of Black Friday deals, and analysts say the late-month surge boosted November sales above a strong month last year.

Chrysler rose a surprising 16 per cent. General Motors posted an increase of 14 per cent while Ford sales rose 7 per cent. Toyota had a 10 per cent increase, Nissan sales rose 11 per cent and Hyundai reported a gain of nearly 5 per cent. Honda had a small decline, while Volkswagen sales dropped 16 per cent.

Here’s a running account of sales reports for the day, presented in reverse chronological order. All times are EST.

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— 5:30 p.m.: The final tally: Sales rose 9 per cent to 1.25 million in November, according to Autodata. Light trucks outsold cars by nearly 50,000, but cars still hold a small lead for the full year. Jeff Schuster, senior vice-president of auto sales forecasting for LMC Automotive, an industry consulting firm, expects 2013 to end with sales of around 15.6 million, rising 3 per cent to 16.1 million next year.

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— 5:20 p.m. More rivalries: Toyota Camry outsold the Honda Accord by 3,293 last month and the Nissan Altima by 5,782; the Honda Civic topped the Toyota Corolla by 3,857, even though its sales dropped nearly 13 per cent; sales of the BMW 3 series totalled 10,272, better than the 7,878 recorded by the Mercedes C Class and the 6,295 in sales racked up by the Lexus ES.

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— 3:05 p.m. More on the red-hot small crossover SUV segment: The segment-leading Honda CR-V posted a 5.3 per cent sales increase and is now out-selling the Ford Escape by 275,145 to 271,531 on the year. The redesigned Toyota RAV4 had the sharpest gain in the segment, up nearly 57 per cent last month.

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— 3:00 p.m.: When Black Friday comes: Toyota said more than 25 per cent of its sales for the month came on the final weekend. GM acknowledged that Black Friday is becoming more important for the auto industry, saying “it’s obviously becoming a bigger go-to-market strategy in automotive, a little more consistent with other industries.”

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— 2:25 p.m.: Preliminary figures from Autodata show sales ran at an annual rate of 16.4 million vehicles last month. For the year so far, Ford boasts the biggest sales gain among companies that sell at least 1 million vehicles in the U.S. at 11.7 per cent, followed by Chrysler at 9.6 per cent. BMW and Mercedes-Benz could both top 300,000 in U.S. sales for the year, and each shows a double-digit gain over last year.

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— 2:15 p.m.: Autodata estimates that Tesla, which doesn’t report monthly figures, sold 1,550 Model S electric cars in the U.S. in November and has sold 17,801 to date.

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— 1:30 p.m.: When Chrysler brought back the Cherokee to replace the Liberty, Jeep enthusiasts were upset that the styling was too far of a departure from the traditional Jeep look. Chrysler naturally was looking to expand the model’s appeal, and appears to have succeeded out of the gate.

“I think maybe the purists are losing out to the masses here, at least initially,” LMC’s Schuster said. “There’s plenty about the vehicle that appeals to a general consumer.”

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— 12:50 p.m.: Investors have ignored the sales reports, instead focusing on the possibility of the Federal Reserve pulling back on stimulus measures. In early afternoon trading, GM shares are down 2 per cent to $38.34, Ford shares are off 2.8 per cent to $16.59 and Honda’s American depositary shares are down 1.2 per cent to $41.39. Even with Tuesday’s declines, both Ford and GM are showing gains of more than 30 per cent for the year.

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— 11:15 a.m.: Americans love a rivalry. In the annual battle between the Ford Mustang and the Chevrolet Camaro, the Camaro is set to win the 2013 contest. Year to date, the Chevy has sales of 75,552, compared with 71,540 for the Ford model. Ford rolls out the latest version of the popular pony car this week, with events around the country.

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— 11:00 a.m.: Little slowdown in pickups: Ford sold 65,501 F-Series pickup trucks in November, the seventh straight month where sales topped 60,000. Consider that it takes the company more than two months to sell that many Fusion midsize cars or Escape SUVs, Ford next bestselling vehicles. GM sold 48,748 Chevy Silverados and GMC Sierras combined, while Chrysler says Ram pickup sales totalled 29,635.

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— 10:50 a.m.: GM likes the big picture. Kurt McNeil, GM’s U.S. sales chief, said the company feels good about the overall economy and its own sales momentum. “The economy is creating jobs and household wealth,” he said. “Energy costs are dropping and credit is available and affordable. All of this bodes well for future growth.”

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— 10:40 a.m. It’s electric: Sales of the Chevy Volt gained 26 per cent to 1,920, while sales of the Nissan Leaf jumped 30 per cent to 2,003. Although the two are the bestselling electric vehicles in the U.S., more attention lately has been focused on the Tesla Model S, which sells for about twice the price. The Model S has exceeded sales expectations, but is also the subject of a government investigation after two of the vehicles experienced fires.

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— 10:30 a.m.: With a big month for sales of the Jeep Cherokee, Chrysler took advantage of a shift in the market toward smaller SUVs. Erich Merkle, Ford’s top sales analyst, said small crossover SUVs like the Cherokee and Ford Escape continued to gobble up market share during November, gaining two full percentage points over a year ago to 15.5 per cent of U.S. sales. The gains came at the expense of small and midsize cars. Midsize cars fell one point to 14.5 per cent, while small cars dropped a point to around 20 per cent, Merkle said.

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— 10:10 a.m.: Thanksgiving turkey apparently didn’t make car buyers sleepy. Toyota credited the holiday weekend with pushing its sales gains to 10 per cent.

“Showroom traffic surged over the holiday weekend for Toyota, indicating good momentum we expect to continue through the end of the year and into 2014,” said Bill Fay, Toyota division group vice-president and general manager.

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— 10 a.m.: General Motors reports a sales increase of 14 per cent, led by pickups, the Chevy Tahoe SUV and the Chevy Impala large car.

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— 9:45 a.m.: Ford sales rose 7 per cent last month. Sales of F-Series pickups gained 16 per cent, and the midsize Fusion rose 51 per cent. But the Focus small car slumped, with a decline of 17 per cent.

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— 9:20 a.m. The star for Chrysler is the all-new Cherokee small sports utility vehicle. Delayed for months while engineers tinkered with the transmission, the Cherokee notched a rate achievement in November: Sales of more than 10,000 in its first full month on the market.

“That is a big number,” said LMC’s Jeff Schuster.

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— 8 a.m. Chrysler beats expectations for an increase of around 10 per cent. The Auburn Hills, Mich., company sells 142,275 cars and trucks last month, up from 122,565 a year ago.

The Chrysler brand gains 12 per cent as dealers sell 11,288 Town & Country minivans, up 70 per cent from the same month last year. The pickup boom rolls on — Ram sales gained 22 per cent.

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–7:45 a.m. Analysts expect November industry sales to rise from 3.6 per cent to 6.3 per cent. Here’s a recap of forecasts from companies that track sales and also provide car-buying advice:

— TrueCar.com: sales of 1.21 million, up 6.3 per cent.

— Edmunds.com: sales of 1.2 million, up 4.7 per cent.

— Kelly Blue Book: sales of 1.19 million, up 3.6 per cent.

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