Black Fri­day deals lift sales in Novem­ber

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - BUSINESS - By Dee-Ann Durbin and Tom Kr­isher AP Auto Writ­ers

Black Fri­day deals and post­elec­tion con­fi­dence helped pull Novem­ber U.S. auto sales out of their re­cent slump — and in­creased the chances that 2016 could set a record for new ve­hi­cle sales.

To­tal U.S. sales rose 4 per­cent for the month to 1.38 mil­lion units. That makes it the high­est Novem­ber on record, beat­ing the pre­vi­ous record of 1.32 mil­lion set in 2001, ac­cord­ing to Kel­ley Blue Book.

Toy­ota Di­vi­sion Gen­eral Man­ager Bill Fay said Novem­ber sales were so good that the in­dus­try may even break last year’s sales record of 17.47 mil­lion.

“I think it will be right around last year’s record, maybe a lit­tle bit less,” Fay told The As­so­ci­ated Press in an in­ter­view in Detroit. “But I think ei­ther way ev­ery­body will sign up for a life­time of this.”

Gen­eral Mo­tors’ sales jumped 10 per­cent over last Novem­ber. Ford’s sales were up 5 per­cent, while Toy­ota and Hyundai both saw 4 per­cent sales in­creases. Honda’s sales were up 6.5 per­cent and Nis­san’s sales rose 7.5 per­cent. Even Volk­swa­gen, which has strug­gled all year be­cause of its diesel cheat­ing scan­dal, saw sales rise 24 per­cent.

Fiat Chrysler bucked the trend, with sales fall­ing 14 per­cent as it made big cuts in sales to rental car com­pa­nies. Other au­tomak­ers were ex­pected to re­port sales later Thurs­day.

Higher in­cen­tives en­ticed buy­ers who sat out much of the fall. July was the last month that sales in­creased year-over-year.

The av­er­age dis­count per ve­hi­cle last month was near $4,000, up by $600 from the same month last year, said Jeff Schus­ter, se­nior vice pres­i­dent for fore­cast­ing at the con­sult­ing firm LMC Au­to­mo­tive.

Au­tomak­ers and deal­ers have al­ways flooded the airwaves with hol­i­day ads in De­cem­ber. But Black Fri­day is tak­ing on in­creas­ing im­por­tance. Since 2013, sales dur­ing the week­end af­ter Thanks­giv­ing have been nearly dou­ble the sales dur­ing a typ­i­cal Novem­ber week­end, ac­cord­ing to car shop­ping site Ed­munds. com. Prior to 2013, au­tomak­ers only saw a 39 per­cent in­crease in sales that week­end.

“Deal­ers and au­tomak­ers clearly have found a way in re­cent years to break through the Black Fri­day clut­ter and con­nect with more car shop­pers,” said Jes­sica Cald­well, Ed­munds’ se­nior di­rec­tor of in­dus­try anal­y­sis. An offer for $10,000 bonus cash on a 2016 Kia K900 was among the Black Fri­day deals Ed­munds cited.

Be­cause au­tomak­ers seem to be will­ing to dis­count, Schus­ter said the in­dus­try prob­a­bly will have a strong De­cem­ber.

“I don’t think they’re nec­es­sar­ily go­ing to pull back with all the hol­i­day deals in De­cem­ber,” Schus­ter said.

Con­sumers also had a new­found con­fi­dence af­ter the tu­mul­tuous elec­tion. U.S. con­sumer con­fi­dence reached its high­est point in nine years in Novem­ber, ac­cord­ing to the Con­fer­ence Board. That’s a cru­cial fac­tor for pur­chas­ing big-ticket items.

Toy­ota is ex­pect­ing at least three more years of solid U.S. sales, said Bob Carter, se­nior vice pres­i­dent of auto op­er­a­tions. Even if sales don’t match last year’s record and are slightly be­low it, it’s still good busi­ness, he said, adding that the in­dus­try al­ready has seen an un­prece­dented six years of growth.

For Novem­ber, au­tomak­ers said:

• Gen­eral Mo­tors Co.’s sales rose 10 per­cent to 252,644. Its Buick, GMC and Cadil­lac brands all saw dou­ble-digit per­cent­age in­creases in sales, while Chevro­let sales were up 8 per­cent. Full-size SUVs were strong sell­ers; sales of the Cadil­lac Es­calade were up 25 per­cent while sales of the Chevro­let Ta­hoe jumped 31 per­cent.

• Toy­ota Mo­tor Corp.’s sales rose 4 per­cent to 197,645. Lux­ury Lexus sales were down 1 per­cent but Toy­ota brand sales rose 5 per­cent. Low gas prices hurt sales of cars like the hy­brid Prius, which was down 16.5 per­cent, but helped SUV sales. Toy­ota High­lander SUV sales jumped 67 per­cent

• Ford Mo­tor Co.’s sales rose 5 per­cent to 197,574. Lin­coln brand sales were up 19 per­cent thanks to the new Con­ti­nen­tal sedan and the re­designed MKX SUV. Sales of Ford’s best-seller, the F-Se­ries pickup, were up 11 per­cent as the new F-250 and F-350 went on sale.

• Fiat Chrysler’s sales fell 14 per­cent to 160,827. All brands saw dou­ble-digit per­cent­age de­clines ex­cept Ram, which was up 12 per­cent on strong sales of pick­ups and the ProMaster com­mer­cial van.

• Honda Mo­tor Co.’s sales rose 6.5 per­cent to 122,924, a Novem­ber record for the com­pany. Lux­ury Acura sales dropped 5 per­cent, but Honda brand sales were up 8 per­cent. Honda’s best­seller, the Ac­cord sedan, saw sales rise 6 per­cent.

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