Black Friday pushes strong auto sales

A month-end sales surge helped automakers post strong November sales.

General Motors Co., the nation's largest auto seller, said its U.S. sales rose 14 percent in November to 212,060 vehicles, compared with the same month a year earlier.

It was the automaker's best November in six years and demonstrated how Black Friday weekend sales extend from the shopping malls to auto dealer lots.

"The Thanksgiving weekend saw a lot of promotion by automakers, riding the Black Friday wave, and it seems to have paid off," said Michelle Krebs, an analyst with auto information company Edmunds.com.

Toyota Motor Corp. said it saw the busiest showrooms of the year over the holiday weekend, "indicating good momentum we expect to continue through the end of the year and into 2014," said Bill Fay, Toyota division group vice president and general manager. Toyota's U.S. sales in November rose 10 percent to 178,044 vehicles, he said.

Ford Motor Co.'s November sales rose 7 percent to 190,449 vehicles. As in previous months, trucks continued to be Ford's strong suit. Sales of F-series pickup trucks rose 16 percent compared with the same month a year earlier.

Chrysler Group said its November sales rose 16 percent to 142,275 vehicles, its best November sales since 2007.

"We continued to see strong sales from Chrysler Group across a number of different models," said Karl Brauer, an analyst at auto information company Kelley Blue Book. "Both the Jeep Wrangler and Dodge Dart had their best November car sales while the Jeep Cherokee and Dodge Durango saw strong growth from their latest redesign."

The domestic automakers posted results that were better than expected, Krebs said.

"Truck sales continue to be strong, but so are sales of SUVs, notably the Jeep Cherokee and Dodge Durango, and mid-size and small cars," Krebs said.

Hyundai Motor America, for example, said sales of its tiny Accent were up more than 40 percent. Hyundai's U.S. sales rose 5 percent in November to 56,005 vehicles.

Nissan said it finished November with sales of 106,528 vehicles, nearly an 11 percent increase from the same month a year earlier. Automakers posted good results despite a difficult comparison to November 2012, a month when East Coast buyers rushed to showrooms to replace hundreds of thousands of cars destroyed by Superstorm Sandy.

Not every automaker participated in the sales boom.

Volkswagen Group of America said its November sales dropped 16 percent to 30,727 vehicles.

TrueCar.com, the auto shopping website, said discounts were one of the contributors to improved November sales. TrueCar estimated that the average transaction price for light vehicles in the U.S. was $30,634 in November 2013, down $198 from November 2012 and a $164 dip from October 2013.

November 2013's price drop was the first year-over-year drop since December 2010, the company said.

"Relatively higher levels of discounting are being used to clear out 2013 model year vehicles," said Jesse Toprak, senior analyst for TrueCar.com.


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