GM, Ford, Chrysler sales rise as de­mand for SUVs, pickup trucks gains

The Pak Banker - - Company& -

TOKYO: Gen­eral Mo­tors Co., Ford Mo­tor Co. and Nis­san Mo­tor Co. all re­ported im­proved sales in Novem­ber as de­mand for pick­ups and sport-util­ity ve­hi­cles helped the in­dus­try match its fastest sales pace of the year.

GM's de­liv­er­ies in the month climbed 11 per­cent to 168,739. Sales of its Chevro­let Equinox and GMC Ter­rain SUVs gained 60 per­cent. Ford's sales rose 20 per­cent to 147,338, fu­eled by a 55 per­cent boost in sales of the Edge SUV. Nis­san, Honda Mo­tor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC also re­ported light-truck gains as they boosted re­sults. Toy­ota Mo­tor Corp. sales fell 3.3 per­cent.

In­dus­try­wide light-ve­hi­cle sales ran at a 12.3 mil­lion an­nual pace in Novem­ber, match­ing the Oc­to­ber rate that was the fastest since the U.S. govern­ment's "cash for clunkers" pro­gram in 2009. An­nual U.S. sales plunged to 10.4 mil­lion last year, the worst year since 1982, af­ter av­er­ag­ing 16.8 mil­lion from 2000 to 2007.

"It's not like happy days are here again-it's one more plod­ding step down the road in the right di­rec­tion," said Jeremy An­wyl, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Ed­munds.com, an auto-shop­ping re­search site in Santa Mon­ica, Cal­i­for­nia.

The U.S. au­tomak­ers' sales gains lagged an­a­lysts' fore­casts. GM was ex­pected to post a 13 per­cent sales in­crease by re­searcher TrueCar.com, and Ed­munds.com pro­jected a 12 per­cent gain. Ford de­liv­er­ies were ex­pected to rise 21 per­cent, the av­er­age es­ti­mate of five an­a­lysts. Chrysler re­ported a 17 per­cent boost to 74,152, com­pared with a 26 per­cent av­er­age of five an­a­lysts' es­ti­mates.

Nis­san Mo­tor Co., Ja­pan's third-largest au­tomaker, said U.S. sales of Nis­san and In­finiti brand ve­hi­cles rose 27 per­cent from a year ago to 71,366. The av­er­age of four an­a­lysts' es­ti­mates was for a 16 per­cent gain. The Yoko­hama-based com­pany ben­e­fited from higher sales of crossovers and pick­ups, post­ing a com­bined 54 per­cent in­crease in light-truck de­liv­er­ies. "You're go­ing to see strong truck sales all day," said Michelle Krebs, an an­a­lyst with Ed­munds.com. "That's be­ing driven by sta­ble gas prices and pent-up de­mand from peo­ple who use trucks and SUVs for work and have been putting off pur­chases."

Av­er­age reg­u­lar un­leaded gaso­line prices in the U.S. have been be­tween $2.60 and $2.95 a gal­lon through­out 2010, ac­cord­ing to AAA.

GM rose 58 cents to $34.78 at 4:15 p.m. in New York Stock Ex­change com­pos­ite trad­ing. The shares have gained 5.4 per­cent from their $33 sale price in an ini­tial pub­lic of­fer­ing last month. Ford gained 52 cents, or 3.3 per­cent, to $16.46. Ford had gained 65 per­cent this year. Stocks rose on spec­u­la­tion of larger ef­fort to end Europe's debt cri­sis. Chevro­let, which ac­counted for 70 per­cent of GM's sales, boosted de­liv­er­ies 18 per­cent to 117,588, the Detroit-based com­pany said to­day in a state­ment. Buick sales climbed 36 per­cent to 11,725 ve­hi­cles, led by de­liv­er­ies of the En­clave SUV, GM said to­day. GMC sales gained 30 per­cent to 27,590. Cadil­lac de­liv­er­ies rose 21 per­cent to 11,801.

Sales of the Cadil­lac SRX climbed 36 per­cent, the com­pany said.

"We con­tinue to see a grad­ual rise in over­all in­dus­try de­mand," Don John­son, GM's vice pres­i­dent of U.S. sales, said to­day on a con­fer­ence call. "Con­sumers are still cau­tious. We're start­ing to see an in­cli­na­tion for peo­ple to come back into deal­er­ships."

Light-ve­hi­cle sales ran faster than the 12.2 mil­lion sea­son­ally ad­justed an­nual rate, the av­er­age of eight an­a­lysts' es­ti­mates com­piled by Bloomberg. The Con­fer­ence Board said its monthly Con­sumer Con­fi­dence Sur­vey rose from 49.9 in Oc­to­ber to 54.1 in Novem­ber, the high­est level in five months.

Leas­ing ac­counted for 11 per­cent of GM sales, up from a pace of nearly 8 per­cent for the year, John­son said. More leas­ing and sub­prime lend­ing from Gen­eral Mo­tors Fi­nan­cial Co. Inc., for­merly Amer­iCredit Corp., should help sales as the lender and GM work more closely to­gether, he said.

Since fil­ing for bank­ruptcy last year, GM has closed Hum­mer, Pon­tiac and Saturn and sold Saab to fo­cus on Buick, Cadil­lac, Chevro­let and GMC. Sales of those four re­main­ing brands rose 21 per­cent.

GM's sales topped Lex­ing­ton, Mas­sachusetts-based re­search firm IHS Au­to­mo­tive's es­ti­mate of 162,000 for the month. "They aren't blow­ing the doors out, but it's a slow, steady re­cov­ery," said Re­becca Lind­land, IHS's di­rec­tor of strate­gic re­view.

Ford's sales in­crease was driven by gains from its re­designed Edge sport-util­ity ve­hi­cle, a 26 per­cent jump in F-se­ries pickup de­liv­er­ies and strong de­mand for small cars such as the Fo­cus and Fi­esta. Ford's Lin­coln lux­ury line rose 19 per­cent on sales of the MKZ sedan, MKX SUV and the Town Car, which the au­tomaker is dis­con­tin­u­ing next year.

Since last Novem­ber, Ford sold the Volvo brand to Zhe­jiang Geely Hold­ing Group Co. Ex­clud­ing that lux­ury make, Ford's sales rose 24 per­cent. -Bloomberg

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