Auto Sales Ride Wave of Holiday Deals

The auto industry has joined the holiday fun, as Black Friday deals lifted November sales after a sleepy start to the fall.

Continue Reading Below

The kickoff to the holiday shopping season proved to be a boon for General Motors (NYSE:GM), Ford (NYSE:F) and others. As Ford’s Mark LaNeve noted, Black Friday has become “one of the cornerstone selling events on the automotive calendar,” marking a period of heavy advertising across most brands. Black Friday promotions paid off by driving consumers to showrooms to cap the month.

“I’d characterize the month as steady, and a then pretty strong close in the last week, certainly in our case,” LaNeve, Ford’s vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service, told analysts and reporters on a conference call.

November turned things around following an October that saw U.S. sales drop 5.8%. Year-to-date figures through the end of the month were down 0.2%, due to a dramatic shift in buying trends that has left passenger cars in the dust. Meanwhile, trucks and sport-utility vehicles are going strong, and they carried the industry to stronger results last month.

GM sales, which grew 10.2% overall to 252,644 units, got a boost from the Chevrolet and Cadillac SUVs, as well as Chevrolet and GMC pickup trucks. GMC contributed a 14% increase in sales, as all but one model—the Terrain—recorded gains.

Ford sold 18.9% more SUVs, and F-Series trucks had their best November in 15 years with a 10.6% gain to 72,089 units. Ford’s total sales checked in at 197,574 vehicles, up 5.2%.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
GMGENERAL MOTORS COMPANY35.50-0.07-0.20%
FFORD MOTOR COMPANY8.82+0.04+0.46%
FCAUFIAT CHRYSLER AUTOMOBILES N.V.13.10+0.10+0.77%
TMTOYOTA MOTOR135.07-0.38-0.28%
HMCHONDA MOTOR26.24-0.09-0.34%

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (NYSE:FCAU) also saw an increase in truck purchases, although weaker sales at Jeep, Dodge and Chrysler dragged total sales to a 14% decline. According to Kelley Blue Book’s estimates, Fiat Chrysler was the only automaker expected to report lower monthly sales.

Toyota (NYSE:TM) and Honda (NYSE:HMC) reported sales growth of 4.3% and 6.5%, respectively.

Incentive spending jumped to $3,475 from $3,076 per vehicle versus November 2015, according to TrueCar (NYSE:TRUE) data.

In addition to the Black Friday frenzy, sales reports benefited from two extra selling days compared to last November.