Market Overview

November Auto Sales Highest Since Recession

November Auto Sales Highest Since Recession

November vehicle sales in the U.S. were the best in more than six years, according to The Wall Street Journal. An improving economic picture is clearly partly responsible.

General Motors (NYSE: GM) Vice President Kurt McNeil told The Wall Street Journal, "We feel good about the direction of the economy and our own momentum." In addition, McNeil credited recent drops in energy costs and the availability of credit.

NPR noted that this year automakers and car dealers paid a lot of attention to Black Friday weekend – resulting in a significant uptick in sales over that period.

The overall sales rate for November 2013 was 16.4 million cars and trucks, well ahead of the 15.3 million units sold in November 2012 according to Autodata, which called it the fastest pace since February 2007. Many of those sales came in the final weekend.

Among the very few automakers who failed to post gains in November were Honda (NYSE: HMC), Volkswagen, Mazda and BMW.

General Motors and Chrysler, on the other hand, were up 14 and 16 percent respectively. Ford Motor (NYSE: F) gained seven percent on the month.

Among Japanese automakers, Toyota (NYSE: TM) sales rose 10 percent and Nissan went up 11 percent.

Related: Elon Musk Wants Tesla Electric Truck to Compete with Ford F150

While sales of all types of vehicles improved, small sport utility vehicles saved the day – especially for Ford. Ford sales analyst, Erich Merkle said small SUVs gained two percentage points in market share in November compared with last year. Small and midsize cars, however, lost two percentage points combined.

In addition, small SUVs such as the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V, which currently make up 15.5 percent of U.S. sales, saw a 21 percent increase in November over a year ago.

Further evidence of the importance families are placing on small SUVs was reflected in the fact that even though Honda failed to post overall gains in November, the company’s CR-V led sales in that category with 23, 509 sold.

Toyota sold 19,447 of its RAV4 and the brand new Jeep Cherokee exceeded 10,000 units sold in November, the vehicle’s first month on the market.

In fact, Cherokee sales helped boost Chrysler’s numbers by 16 percent allowing the automaker to lead the pack in November sales.

Despite the good news, some analysts, according to The Wall Street Journal, believe the industry may have hit a plateau and that sales gains next year may be less impressive.

At the time of this writing, Jim Probasco had no position in any mentioned securities.


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