What's Driving November Auto Sales?

Edmunds.com Senior Analyst Jessica Caldwell analyzes November auto sales.

November Car Sales Rise at GM, Chrysler, Ford

By Features FOXBusiness

Sales rose last month for all three of Detroit’s biggest car makers, good news for the long-struggling industry.

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Chrysler reported sales in the U.S. jumped 45% in November, citing strong demand for the Jeep models, while General Motors (NYSE: GM) U.S. sales rose 7%. Ford’s (NYSE: F) retail sales were up 20%.

The solid numbers were widely predicted, as consumers have delayed some big ticket items, such as new homes, during the economic slump, but are slowly and warily heading back into the car market.

The car makers themselves have participated in the revival, offering consumers all manner of incentives. Research firm TrueCar.com said Chrysler offered incentives worth nearly $3,300 per vehicle.

Chrysler said in a statement it sold 107,172 new cars and trucks last month, up from 74,152 a year earlier. Jeep sales rose 44%, primarily on robust sales of its Compass crossover and the Liberty compact SUV.

GM said it sold more than 180,000 cars and trucks, with sales of its Chevrolet Cruze leading the way. Pickups were also popular, as sales of the Chevy Silverado rose 34%.

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GM and Chrysler both required government bailouts in the wake of the recent financial crisis after struggling for years with declining sales and soaring costs. Massive restructurings have reduced debt and streamlined their operations.

Shares of GM rose 15 cents, or 0.7%, to $21.44, well below the stock’s initial public offering price of $33 a year ago.  

Ford said its November retail sales in the U.S. increased 20% compared with a year ago. Total sales were 166,865, up 13%, the car maker said.

Ford said its brand retail sales were higher for most of its products, noting double-digit gains posted by its Fiesta, Fusion, Escape, Explorer, F-Series, Econoline and Ranger models.

In a press release, Ford estimated its retail market share has averaged 15% in the last three months, marking its highest retail share in five years.

Ford’s shares were up 2 cents, or 0.24%, at $10.62, in midday trading.

Two of the three big Japanese car makers also saw increases as they recovered from supply disruptions following the earthquake and tsunami that devastated northern Japan in March.

Toyota reported a 6.7% increase for the month, while Nissan posted a 19% November gain, which it attributed to sharp increases in sales of SUV’s and mid-sized pickup trucks. Honda sales fell 6.4% to 83,925 vehicles, as nearly every model saw a decline from a year ago.