Chrysler, GM sales jump, Ford declines; small SUVs hot – USA TODAY
Chrysler Group and General Motors posted solid sales gains, while Ford Motor showed a sales decline in early reports of November auto sales.
All makers report today and this story will be updated as they do.
Chrysler Group kicked off today’s cavalcade of November auto sales reports with a healthy 20% jump vs. the month a year ago courtesy of its star brand, Jeep.
GM beat expectations with a 6.5% increase.
Ford, meanwhile, reported a 1.8% decline — which it said was expected as it works to increase availability of its redesigned 2015 F-150 pickup, the redone Mustang and the new Transit commercial van.
Industry analysts expect it to be the strongest November sales in more than a decade. Analysts have been notching up their forecasts for the month — which finished with a very strong post-Thanksgiving long weekend — so anything less than the moon would be disappointing.
Forecasts Tuesday morning were for an annualized sales rate of 17 million or better, some from automakers hitting 17.5 million..
General Motors, lately an also-ran in the sales-increase arena, posted a healthy 6.5% increase over a year ago, selling 225,818 new cars and trucks in November, best for that month since pre-recession 2007.
“Significantly better than expected,” commented Ryan Brinkman, JP Morgan auto industry investment analyst. And it was accompanied by rising transaction prices, he pointed out, suggesting higher profits.
It wasn’t without a big issue, though.
Luxury brand Cadillac was a sad story – down 18.7% as the collapse of its cars sales and its mid-size crossover SUV were too much for the booming, big Escalade SUVs to outweigh.
XTS, a big sedan that was supposed to edge the brand closer to its German rivals, withered 50.3%. ATS, small, entry sedan that was intended to match the BMW 3-series, was off 33.7%.
And CTS, recently redesigned, was down 7.5%.
Even Cadillac’s stalwart SRX mid-size crossover SUV, despite buyers’ renewed SUV fervor, continued its vanishing act – down 30.9%.
GM’s Buick premium brand and its GMC truck brand posted the biggest increases, 27% and 22.7%, respectively, as GM was able to sell to both ends of the buying spectrum.
Encore, a subcompact SUV that pioneered the upmarket small-SUV segment in the U.S. and now is reaping the fruits as urbanites rush to trim-size, well-furnished SUVs. Its sales were up 71.9%.
Lacrosse sedan jumped 70.6%. It was heavily promoted on TV with ads suggesting that Buick is a hip brand, not a fogey’s ride, and with 20% discounts later in the month.
GMC benefitted from buyers’ return to trucks as fuel prices slide and mileage becomes less important. And by GMC’s affiliation with the NFL, advertising heavily on football games.
Sierra full-size pickup sales zoomed 57% ahead of November a year ago. The redesigned Yukon full-size, traditional, truck-based SUV was up 14.5% while the smaller Terrain SUV rose 13.4%.
At GM’s cornerstone brand, Chevrolet, the Spark minicar had the biggest jump, 64.3%, but that still was just a total 2,861 vehicles.
Cruze compact sedan was a lively seller, up 25.6%, in a very competitive segment where it’s had trouble sustaining momentum. Chevy’s mid-size Malibu, on the other hand, tumbled 16.7% despite recent updates.
Silverado full-size pickup improved 24.5% and the big, Silverado-based Tahoe SUV rose 10.4%.
Chevrolet’s mid-size Colorado pickup made its debut, snagging about the same number of buyers as the Corvette sports car. GM expects that to ramp up fast, based on big numbers of dealer orders before the truck hit the market.
GM’s full-size Sierra and Silverado combined outsold the Ford F-series, selling a combined 65,343 to Ford’s 59,049 as the new-design, aluminum-body F-150 still is cranking up production.
U.S. sales were 187,000 vehicles and the decline came despite 22% growth for the Escape compact crossover to 25,528 and a 13% gain for the Explorer to 14,949.
Ford cars were down 5% overall, with only the Police Interceptor and the all-new Mustang posting gains. Ford sold 8,728 of the new Mustangs.
The redesigned version of the big F-150 pickup, the best-selling U.S. vehicle, was just arriving at dealers in November and its sales, mostly close-out 2014s, were down 9.9%.
The Lincoln brand posted an overall 21% jump to 8,113, led by the refreshed Navigator’s 88% growth to 1,433.
The unit of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, said it sold 170,839 new cars and trucks this November, making it the best November since 2001. Jeep was up 27%, setting a record for the month.
The news pushed up Fiat Chrysler stock, traded as FCAU, 31 cents, or 2.4%, to $13.02 in pre-market trading. FCAU went public mid-October at $9. Investor who bought then are up about 45%.
The Jeep Cherokee, long-delayed replacement for the Liberty, had been on sale only a short time a year ago. This year’s monthly total was 66.6% better than the previous November.
The small Jeep Patriot, long in the tooth but still popular and benefiting from buyers’ return to SUVs — especially small ones — was up 47%.
The new-design Chrysler 200 sedan zoomed 155%, pulling up the Chrysler brand overall by 29.6%.
Laggards were the Fiat and Dodge brands, each up just 1% despite new models.
Fiat-owned Alfa Romeo returned to the U.S. with the 4C sports car, finding 24 buyers.
In its top-line sales preview, Toyota reported that its November U.S. sales for the Toyota, Scion and Lexus brands rose 3% to 183,346, led — like most makers in the month – by sales growth for its SUVs and trucks. And the company said it saw a big bump from Black Friday weekend for the industry overall.
“Auto industry sales during Thanksgiving weekend were even better than expected,” said Bill Fay, Toyota division group vice president and general manager. “Consumer demand for light trucks continues unabated and Toyota dealers set new November sales records for light trucks and SUVs.”
Toyota will report full details later today.
The company reported a sales decline of 3.1% in November to 103,188, as both its Nissan and Infiniti brands fell.
The company also said that with a month remaining its year-to-date U.S. sales 1,269,577, up 11.5% from a year ago, already are an annual record.
The Nissan brand sales were down 1.7% from a year ago, with car sales down 6.6% offsetting a 6.5% gain for its trucks and crossovers.
Leading truck growth was a 43.7% gain for the redone Rogue compact crossover.
Sales for the Sentra compact sedan were up 6%, but sales for the brand’s volume leader, the Altima midsize sedan, were off 7.2% to 22,832.
Overall sales for the Infiniti premium brand fell 13.3% from a year ago to 11,398.
Propelled by sales of the refreshed Jetta compact sedan and redesigned Golf line, VW turned around several months of declines to post a 3.2% sales gain in November to 31,725.
The bump came on sales of cars and despite the brand’s limited offerings of crossover SUVs, which drove the sales at most makers in the month.
The Jetta’s sales jumped 31.8% to 14,268, while the new Golf was up 85.9% to 2,149 and the Golf GTI performance model was up 64.8% to 1,725. The flagship Passat midsize sedan, however, plunged 21.5% to 6,966 in November and is off 12% this year for the 11 months through November.
Sales of the brand’s aging SUVs continue to be even, even as SUV sales overall are booming, with the Tiguan compact down 16.5% year-to-date and the Touareg midsize down 14.3%.
Diesel-powered vehicles accounted for 17.2% of VW sales.