Car prices hit record high, but US automakers see mixed November sales

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Major U.S. automakers reported mixed auto sales data for November, while Kelley Blue Book reported record high transaction prices.

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Fiat Chrysler (FCAU)  said total U.S. vehicle sales in November declined 4% from a year ago. General Motors (GM) said November U.S. vehicle deliveries fell 2.9% from a year ago while Ford’s (F) unit sales increased 6.7% in November.

Fiat Chrysler saw declines in Jeep, Dodge and Ram truck sales but an increase in Chrysler sales. Fiat Chrysler’s shares were fractionally lower, Friday afternoon, but they have soared over 122% this year.

While GM’s total retail sales declined 3% year-over-year, according to GM’s release, “overall retail sales were essentially equal to last November.” They said commercial and government deliveries increased 7% which included a 30% increase in full-size pickup sales. But, total fleet sales were down 13% after a 24% reduction in daily rental deliveries. General Motors shares were down just over 1% Friday afternoon, but up over 20% this year.  

Ford’s U.S. November 2017 sales increased 6.7% versus November 2016, with retail performance increasing 1.3% year-over-year. The company’s F-Series trucks had their best November results since 2001 with 72,769 pickups sold.

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While auto sales data were released Friday, Kelley Blue Book (KBB) released its report on transactions prices, which reached a record high. According to KBB, the estimated average transaction price for light vehicles in the US was $35,870 in November 2017. New-car prices have increased 1.6% versus November 2016.

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"Transaction prices reached a new record high in November 2017," said Tim Fleming, analyst for Kelley Blue Book. "Prices are being driven higher by the shifting sales mix away from cars, which now stands at just 34% and is trending downward. Kelley Blue Book continues to see much of the consumer demand geared toward small SUVs, which saw prices rise by 3%, in addition to strong sales growth. This segment features many recent redesigns, and shows no signs of weakness despite the overall down market for new vehicles."