“It’s a whole different feeling now,” said Chuck Eddy, a Chrysler dealer in Youngs-town, Ohio, and chairman of the Chrysler National Dealer Council. “It’s not a rental-car fleet anymore. The consumer is buying our product.”
Industrywide sales rose 5 percent in November, and the seasonally adjusted, annualized selling rate hit 17.2 million, the second-highest level of any month in more than eight years. On the year, sales are on track to top 16.4 million, the most since 2006.
The biggest contributor to this year’s growth has been Fiat Chrysler, whose sales are up 16 percent in 2014. The rest of the industry, excluding Fiat Chrysler, has increased 4 percent on the year.
The Jeep brand alone has managed to boost its sales by 44 percent in 2014. Jeep accounts for nearly three-quarters of Fiat Chrysler’s year-to-date sales gain.
IHS Automotive said Jeep has increased its brand-loyalty rating — measured by vehicles registered to buyers who already owned the same brand — by 16 percent this year, third best in the industry behind Maserati and Mitsubishi. In contrast, the average brand has increased its sales to existing customers by just 0.4 percent.
November’s high selling rate was helped by automakers promoting more Black Friday deals and starting their year-end clearance discounts earlier than in the past. But incentive spending fell 2.3 percent from October and 0.2 percent from November 2013, according to TrueCar.
At the same time, average transaction prices rose 0.6 percent from a year ago, TrueCar said.
This is the third consecutive year that the industry sold more cars and trucks in November than October. From 1989 through 2011, October was the bigger of the two months every year except 2005.