(Adds Autodata annualized sales rate in second paragraph)
By Ben Klayman and Bernie Woodall
DETROIT Dec 2 The top six automakers sold more
cars and trucks in November than analysts expected, with a
healthy economy, generous discounts and low fuel prices luring
consumers into U.S. showrooms.
The industry's annualized sales rate in November was about
17.2 million vehicles, according to industry consultant Autodata
Corp. That is the best pace for that month since 2003 and well
ahead of the estimated 16.7 million in a Thomson Reuters survey
of 41 industry economists and analysts.
November sales totaled 1.3 million, up 4.6 percent from a
year ago and higher than analysts' expectations of 1.27 million.
"This sustained demand for new vehicles was building for
years during the recession, and it should continue unless a
major shift in economic stability occurs," said analyst Karl
Brauer of Kelley Blue Book.
General Motors Co, Chrysler Group, Toyota
Motor Corp and Honda Motor Co all reported
year-to-year sales gains in November, while Ford Motor Co
and Nissan Motor Co Ltd had modest declines. All six
topped forecasts from analysts surveyed by Reuters.
Early buzz and promotions tied to the post-Thanksgiving
"Black Friday" retail blitz helped spur car sales, according to
John Krafcik, president of online shopping service TrueCar.com.
Krafcik said average transaction prices on full-size pickups in
November topped $40,000 for the first time.
GM on Tuesday said November sales rose 6.5 percent to
225,818 vehicles. Sales of GM's Chevrolet Silverado and GMC
Sierra full-size pickups climbed 34 percent to 65,343.
"Lower gasoline prices are helping the entire market, not
just SUVs and trucks," said GM spokesman Jim Cain, who also
cited improving consumer confidence, higher wages and lower
Chrysler Group sales rose 20.1 percent to 170,839 vehicles
on strong showings by its Jeep utility vehicles and Ram trucks.
Ram pickup sales were up 21 percent, while Jeep SUV sales jumped
Ford reported a slight decline in sales to 186,334 vehicles,
about what analysts had expected. Sales of the best-selling
F-150 pickup were down 10 percent to 59,049 as the automaker
began a changeover to the redesigned 2015 model.
Ford chief economist Emily Kolinski Morris said plunging
fuel prices have provided a "financial windfall" for buyers,
bolstered by still-low interest rates.
"By any measure, households are reaping significant
disposable income gains each week at current gas prices," she
Toyota said sales rose 3 percent to 183,343, while Honda
reported an increase of nearly 9 percent to 121,814. Nissan said
sales were down 3 percent to 103,188. All three companies beat
(Writing by Paul Lienert; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe, Matthew
Lewis and Jonathan Oatis)