November Auto Sales Strongest in Years

Detroit automakers sold more cars and trucks in November than analysts expected, as a surging economy and falling fuel prices helped drive sales of big pickups and SUVs.

General Motors Co <GM.N> on Tuesday said November sales rose 6.5 percent to 225,818, topping the average 217,462 projected by auto analysts.

GM said its average transaction prices were a record $35,600, up $790 per vehicle from October and up $3,100 from a year ago. Sales of GM's Chevrolet Silverado pickup climed nearly 25 percent.

Chrysler Group sales rose 20.1 percent to 170,839, on strong showings by its Jeep brand and Ram pickup trucks, the unit of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV <FCHA.MI><FCAU.N> said on Tuesday. Analysts had expected 142,275.

Jeep SUV sales jumped 27 percent, Ram pickup truck sales were up 21 percent, and Chrysler 200 sedan sales soared 155 percent to 14,317.

Ford Motor Co <F.N> reported a slight decline in sales, to 186,334, about what analysts had expected. Sales of the best-selling F-150 pickup were down 10 percent, as the automaker began the changeover to the redesigned 2015 model.

A strong showing on Black Friday last week is seen pushing U.S. auto industry sales in November up 2.3 percent to about 1.27 million vehicles, the highest since the 2008 recession, according to a survey of 11 analysts by Reuters.

A Thomson Reuters survey of 41 industry economists and analysts showed expectations of 16.7 million vehicles sold on an annualized basis, with a high forecast of 17 million vehicles on an annualized basis.

In October, U.S. sales were 16.46 million vehicles on an annualized basis.

(Additional reporting by Bernie Woodall in Detroit, Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)