GM, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota Post Big November Sales
General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM) and Chrysler Group LLC said Monday they sold more cars last month than in any November since 2007, before the Great Recession sent sales plummeting, as shopper returned to showroom floors after Superstorm Sandy and the presidential election.
The strong November sales, which also were reflected in sales by other carmakers, help vindicate the U.S. government's decision to rescue GM and Chrysler, suggests they are on the road to long-term profitability and confirms the two automakers' decision to focus on smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles.
Chrysler and Toyota reported double digit sales growth in November while Ford Motor Co. (NYSE:F) and GM reported middle single-digit growth. Combined, the four automakers sold 648,438 vehicles last month.
Analysts estimate that carmakers sold 1.1 million cars last month for a seasonally adjusted annual rate of about 15 million.
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Auto sales reports come out at the start of the month and they offer a preview into short-term consumer sentiment. A good month of U.S. vehicle purchases during the holiday shopping season is an indicator of consumers are more confident, at least in the short term.
Future economic uncertainties, as well as an expected slight decline in U.S. gross domestic product, could hamper post-holiday sales, but Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) also announced Monday it was planning to build more vehicles in the first quarter of next year compared to 2012, betting on a better year in terms of unit sales.
Positive albeit insufficient job growth, low financing interest rates, increased spending on incentives by manufacturers, especially from Asian automakers, and the need to replace a record high number of older cars on the road contributed to the performance seen last month. Hurricane Sandy contributed marginally to the growth in sales last month as U.S. Northeastern buyers either delayed vehicle purchases or had to buy new cars to replace owned damaged in the late-October super storm.
General Motors Company (NYSE: GM)
The Detroit-based auto giant reported Monday its best November sales performance since 2007, up 3 percent to 186,505 units led by strong 51-percent rise in the sale of mini, small and compact passenger cars compared to last year.
The Chevrolet brand sold the most units, 128,867, but sales were unchanged from the year before. Cadillac saw a 30 percent rise in unit sales to 14,517, followed by Buick’s 18.4 percent increase. Buick and Cadillac also led the way in retail sales compared to last year, of 18.4 percent and 26 percent respectively. The Chevrolet brand saw a 4.3 percent contraction in retail sales.
The GMC Terrain mid-sized utility vehicle led in the sale of crossover vehicles with a 44 percent rise while the sale of large pickups was up only 8 percent, the company said, because of attractive incentives from competitors.
Kurt McNeil, vice president of U.S. sales operations, said that next year’s growth is contingent on Congress and the White House resolving the fiscal cliff situation of combined tax hikes and across-the-board spending cuts that if left unchanged could send the country into recession.
“Consumers hate uncertainty, so an agreement on ways to reduce long-term federal budget deficits could remove an impediment to growth,” said McNeil.
General Motors Company (NYSE: GM) shares fell 30 cents to $25.59 in mid-day trading on Tuesday.
Chrysler Group LLC
The subsidiary of Italian company Fiat S.p.A. (Milan: F) reported the best November 2012 U.S. sales of 122,565 units, a 14-percent rise from last year and the best November since 2007 and the 32nd consecutive month of year-over-year gains.
The Dodge brand saw a 32-percent increase in sales, led by the Dodge Journey family crossover that hit a record 77 percent sales gain for November and the Dodge Grand Caravan minivan, which saw a 42 percent rise in sales, the highest since before the 2008-09 recession.
Fiat brand sales led the way, with a 123 percent gain in November sales, while Chrysler brand sales grew 1 percent, the highest since 2008. The Ram Trucks brand sales grew 23 percent, the best rate in five years. The Ram Cargo Van saw a record-breaking 226-percent sales pop.
Jeep brand sales were down 3 percent. The Jeep Wrangler four-wheel-drive SUV set a November sales record with a 12-percent rise in unit sales.
Fiat shares closed down 1.07 percent to €3.52 ($4.59) on Tuesday in Milan.
Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F)
Ford reported November 2012 U.S. car sales up 6 percent over the year before with 177,673 vehicles sold. Ford reported that consumers have continued to gravitate to the Dearborn-based company's fuel-efficient hybrid vehicles. Retail sales at Ford-owned dealerships rose 12 percent last month compared to the previous year.
Car sales were up 15 percent while trucks rose 4 percent and utility vehicles gained 2 percent. Small car sales – the Ford Focus, the Fiesta and the C-MAX Hybrids – took the lead in sales gain, exhibiting the strongest November in 12 years. The hybrid line saw a 52-percent rise in sales from October.
The popular F-Series brand of full-sized pickup trucks saw its year-over-year rise for the 16th consecutive month to the best November since 2005 with 56,299 pickups sold, an 18 percent rise from last year.
The company also announced it would build 750,000 vehicles the first quarter of 2013, a 11 percent rise from the same period this year.
Ford shares rose 9 cents to $11.54 in mid-day trading on Tuesday.
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