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Sweet November for US auto sales

Keeps on growing: Volkswagen Jetta was the German brand’s star performer in its strong November – the 27th consecutive month of growth for the company.

Return to pre-GFC car sales in the US on the cards as November grows 15 per cent

General News logo5 Dec 2012

THE United States is poised to record its strongest full year of auto sales since the global financial crisis, with November sales up 15 per cent to 1.14 million – the best result in five years.

Annual sales sit at 13.14 million with just one month to go, up 14 per cent on the same time last year, and are expected to finish the year around 14.4 million.

US sales averaged 16.8 million between 2000 and 2007, dropped to 13.2 million in 2008 and bottomed-out to 10.6 million in 2009.

The strong November figure has been attributed to renewed buyer confidence in the economy and a rebound from October’s Hurricane Sandy, which hit the East Coast and led to a glut of postponed purchases.

Among the biggest movers were the BMW Group and Honda (both up 39 per cent, with the latter clocking up a monthly record) and the Volkswagen Group (up 31 per cent).

GM was again the country’s top-selling brand with 186,505 sales across its Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC brands, but its growth was well below the market average at 3.0 per cent.

80 center imageFrom top: US-spec Ford Focus Chevrolet Caprice PPV Toyota Camry.

One GM vehicle to experience above-average growth was the Australian-built Chevrolet Caprice PPV police car, with sales up 68.3 per cent over the same month last year to 281 units (and an annual tally of 3489 sales).

However, the November figure is lower than those recorded for the three preceding months, with 343 Caprices sold in October, 454 in September and 731 in August.

Second-placed Ford’s sales grew 6.0 per cent to 177,673 units, helped by strong sales of its fleet of small cars.

Fiesta, Focus and C-Max models achieved 26,848 sales, up a substantial 76 per cent over the same month last year.

Toyota continued its recovery from its tsunami-ravaged 2011, up 17 per cent to 161,695 units and placing third overall behind General Motors and Ford.

Chrysler was the biggest improver among the US ‘Big Three’, recording sales growth of 14 per cent to 122,565 units – its best November since 2007 – on the back of strong Dodge and Fiat sales (the latter grew 123 per cent).

Fifth on the charts behind GM, Ford, Toyota and Chrysler was leading Japanese brand Honda, which tallied 116,580 units (including its Acura luxury division), up 39 per cent and setting a November record.

The company attributed the strong result to core models such as the Civic (up 75 per cent), all-new Accord (up 82 per cent) and new CR-V (up 36 per cent).

These results also indicate the car-maker has well and truly recovered from mass parts shortages stemming from Japanese and Thai natural disasters in 2011 that decimated its sales.

Also setting a monthly record was fellow Japanese brand Nissan, which finished the month in sixth place on 96,197 sales (including 11,897 for Infiniti), up 13 per cent. Nipping at Nissan’s heels was Hyundai/Kia with 94,542 sales, up 9.0 per cent.

Meanwhile, Volkswagen’s tally of 36,728 units (excluding subsidiary brands Audi, Bentley, Lamborghini and Porsche) was its highest November figure since 1973, and represented a staggering 27 consecutive months of sales growth.

This figure leaps to 52,912 sales when fellow VW Group brands are included, with Audi chipping in 12,067 sales to be up 24 per cent.

The German brand was the top-selling European company ahead of BMW (36,493 and up 39 per cent) and Daimler (32,652, up 16 per cent).

Setting a high-water growth mark among mainstream brands was Subaru, which jumped 60 per cent to 28,206 monthly sales – its best result – thanks to strong sales of its new Impreza small car and the addition of the new XV and BRZ to its line-up.

Suzuki sales grew 22 per cent to 2224 units, largely thanks to a 42 per cent boost for the SX4. As reported, the Japanese company’s US factory distributor filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last month, spelling the end of Suzuki sales in the US as it turns its focus to motorcycles and boats.

Among the few brand to go backwards in November over the same time in 2011 were Jaguar Land Rover (down 7.0 per cent), Mitsubishi (down 4.0 per cent) and Jeep (down 3.0 per cent).

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