Post-Sandy deals, flock of 'young buyers,' spur demand
The average U.S. light vehicle sold for $30,832 in November, up 1 percent from October and a year earlier, says TrueCar.com.
Photo credit: BLOOMBERG
U.S. auto sales jumped 15 percent in November and pushed the selling rate well above 15 million for the first time since early 2008.
As consumers suddenly able to find financing keep replacing aging vehicles and with a post-storm bounce from easterners digging out from Hurricane Sandy, November's sales of 1.14 million light vehicles surpassed analysts' expectations.
"It was a good month for the industry and a darn good month for Ford," said U.S. sales boss Ken Czubay, citing "strong consumer sentiment that 'it's a good time to purchase a car.' "
Toyota Division General Manager Bill Fay believes the sales flurry will continue in December and into 2013, driven by pent-up demand, widely available financing and "a surge of young buyers" coming to the market.
"We expect the industry to end the year strong," he said. "We think the market is strong enough to hold up even if [fiscal cliff] debate goes on for a while."
How good were November sales? The seasonally adjusted annual sales rate hit 15.6 million, the highest since January 2008, before the crash. Honda and Nissan had the best November and BMW its best U.S. month ever. Automakers sold more units in November than in October, only the second time that has happened in 24 years of records.
"Sales are the best in years, transaction prices this year are the highest ever and incentives are in check," said TrueCar.com Vice President Jesse Toprak. "It's a pretty profitable time."
In other sales news:
Big players all gain
All major automakers boosted sales in November, but this year's results were shaped by last November's performance. Of the three that outperformed the 15 percent industry average gain, Honda and Toyota rebounded from disaster-caused extreme product shortages last November and Volkswagen surged because its new U.S. factory is fully producing the VW Passat.
The other five added sales but lost a bit of the market share they had taken from Toyota and Honda a year ago. In addition, Hyundai-Kia has been capacity constrained on some models this year.
Subaru leads smaller makers, up 60 percent
Smaller players generally did well in November, led by a 60 percent gain at Subaru and 39 percent at BMW. Volvo, Daimler and Mazda all finished above the industry average.
Ignoring departing brand Suzuki, the only automakers to lose volume in November were Jaguar Land Rover, off 7 percent, and Mitsubishi, down 4 percent.
Still on hot streaks
Even in a growing U.S. market it's hard to maintain year-over-year monthly sales streaks for long, but several long ones continued in November.
The Audi and Mercedes-Benz brands and auto group Daimler now have sales gains for 37 consecutive months. Chrysler Group has reached 32 months. And it's now 27 months for VW Group of America, the VW brand and Hyundai-Kia America and Kia.
On the downside: Mitsubishi has lost volume for 11 straight months.
November was a month for sales records. American Honda and Nissan North America posted their best-ever November. BMW Group posted its best monthly sales ever in November, up 39 percent to 36,493 units.
Transaction prices up
The average U.S. light vehicle sold for $30,832 in November, up 1 percent from October and a year earlier, says TrueCar.com. Consumers still want higher equipment and feature content -- and that, as TrueCar notes, drives manufacturer and dealer profits. Which mainstream brands command prices above industry average? Volkswagen Group and truck-heavy GM and Ford.
Going to the whip
November average per-vehicle incentives jumped 19 percent to $2,764 from October, led by an 80 percent spike at Nissan North America, TrueCar said. Compared with November 2011, the increase is a more modest 4 percent, with double-digit growth at Nissan, Hyundai-Kia and GM offsetting substantial declines at Ford , Chrysler and Volkswagen .
And the spiff list again shakes up the last-decade norm of the Detroit 3 as the biggest spenders. In November Nissan ($4,273) was the biggest spender, Ford ($2,307) and Chrysler ($2,526) were well below industry average and Honda ($2,428) outspent Ford.
You can reach Jesse Snyder at firstname.lastname@example.org.