GM, Chrysler, Honda US Sales Rise in November – Wall Street Journal

Posted: Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Workers assembling a 2014 Ram 1500 pickup truck on the assembly line at the Warren Truck Plant in Warren, Mich., in September. Chrysler’s U.S. sales rose 20% last month on strong showings by its Ram pickups and Jeeps.
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Auto makers in the U.S. beat the Black Friday Blahs that hit other retailers, racking up strong sales of light trucks and cars as consumers jumped at holiday-season deals.


General Motors
Co.

, Chrysler Group LLC and


Honda Motor
Co.

on Tuesday posted their best November U.S. sales figures in at least several years, powered by strong demand for large pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicles.

The No. 2 U.S. auto maker,


Ford Motor
Co.

, said its sales fell 2%, in part because the company was just starting deliveries of a redesigned F-150 pickup truck for 2015.

Overall, U.S. car and light truck sales hit a 17.1 million vehicle annualized pace in November, according to trade publication WardsAuto.com. That is the highest November sales rate since 2003, and up from a 16.3 million vehicle run rate a year earlier.

Auto executives expressed optimism that sales will stay strong in the coming months, citing falling gas prices, an improving job market and relatively low interest rates. “By any measure, consumers are netting significant household-income gains each week” because of the lower fuel prices,” said

Emily Kolinski Morris,

Ford’s chief economist.

While interest rates could rise next year, Ms. Kolinski Morris said that shouldn’t hurt vehicle demand.

Auto makers also benefited from a mid-November launch of holiday sales promotions. “The weekend before Black Friday ended up being pretty big,” said

John Krafcik,

chief executive of car-sales website Truecar.com. By launching year-end promotions early, he said, auto makers are creating a “60-day sale” at the end of the year.

European auto makers posted mixed results.


BMW
AG

’s sales slipped less than a percentage point mainly because of a 14% drop in sales of its SUVs.

“It’s entirely availability,” said a BMW spokesman. The Munich-based car maker builds its high-volume SUVs in Spartanburg, S.C., and U.S. dealers have to fight for a share of that production with dealers in China, Europe and other markets.


Volkswagen
AG

said sales rose 3% at its VW brand, aided by a lease promotion that boosted sales of its Golf and Jetta compact cars. Its


Audi

luxury-car unit posted a 22% increase in sales over the same month last year.


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Daimler
AG

said U.S. sales of its Mercedes-Benz brand cars and SUVs edged up less than a percentage point despite a 45% drop in E-class sedan sales. Counting strong sales of its Sprinter commercial van, Mercedes said it recorded its best month ever in the U.S. market.

GM’s U.S. sales rose 6.5% to 225,818 vehicles last month, making it the best November for the company in seven years. Its retail sales rose 5%, GM said, while deliveries to fleet customers such as rental-car companies jumped 11%.

Sales at the nation’s largest auto maker were driven in large part by double-digit increases in its Silverado pickup, up 24% over a year earlier, and its Cruze small car, which recorded a 26% improvement. Its GMC brand posted sales growth of 23% as it advertised discounts of as much as 20% off list prices.

Analysts had expected Ford sales to decline as it manages inventory of older trucks and ramps up output of its new F-150 pickup and Mustang sports car.

SUVs were a bright spot for Ford, however, as sales rose 15% to 60,911 units. Escape SUV sales rose 22%, the model’s best November yet, according to the company, while the Explorer model posted 13% sales growth, its best figure for the month in 10 years.

Ford said its sales fell 2%, in part because it was just starting deliveries of the new F-150 pickup.
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Chrysler, the third-biggest Detroit auto maker after Ford, relied on promotions leading into the holiday-shopping season, offering a variety of deals that included thousands in cash back and discounts, and it appears to have paid off.

Its Ram and Jeep brands registered gains of 31% and 27%, respectively, and each exceeded past November sales tallies, the company said.

Chrysler, a unit of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, said it sold 170,839 vehicles last month, an increase from 142,275 a year earlier. It was the company’s best November since 2001.

Its truck sales rose 18% to 129,320 vehicles. Chrysler’s car sales, which had recently been posting weaker results than those for trucks, increased 26% to 41,519 units.

Among other manufacturers,


Toyota Motor Corp.

said its November U.S. sales rose 3% from a year earlier, while Honda said its sales rose 4.6%, shaking off the auto maker’s run of recalls and its admission that it failed to properly report incidents involving safety defects to U.S. regulators. Honda also is tangled in the controversy over recalling defective


Takata Corp.

air bags.


Nissan Motor
Co.

said its U.S. sales fell 3%. Sales of its electric Leaf rose 34% in the month, but some of the company’s higher-volume models, including its Altima sedan and Murano SUV, suffered declines. Sales fell 13% at Nissan’s Infiniti luxury division with the brand’s Q50 sedan, its highest-volume model, slumping 28%.

A big winner in November was


Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd.

’s Subaru brand, which boosted sales in November 24%. Subaru said that as of Nov. 7, it had exceeded its previous, full-year U.S. sales record of 424,683 vehicles.

Write to Michael Calia at michael.calia@wsj.com and Joseph B. White at joseph.white@wsj.com

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