When Superstorm Sandy pummeled the East Coast at the end of October, its breadth and destructiveness were enough to drag down new-car sales for the month. But already in November, carmakers were seeing Sandy's opposite effect: a surge in new vehicle sales as buyers pocket their insurance checks and headed out to dealerships to replace their storm-ruined cars. (It's estimated that as many as 250,000 cars were destroyed.) That tailwind added to the trend of increasing volume driven by an aging national fleet, low interest rates, and improved credit availability. Overall, sales jumped 15% compared to last year, and the annualized clip topped 15 million units, the fastest pace so far in 2012.
NOVEMBER 2012 SALES RESULTS, AND PERCENT CHANGE VERSUS NOVEMBER 2011
GENERAL MOTORS +3%
GM's 3% increase was well shy of the industry overall. With Cadillac and Buick up significantly, and GMC scratching out a 1% increase, the blame must lie with Chevrolet, which was flat. Looking more closely, however, we see that Chevy cars did well, but it was trucks that dragged the numbers down.
GM claimed that its pickup sales were hurt by competitors' steep discounts, and you can see the effect on the Silverado (-10%) and the Colorado (-33%). Large SUVs declined as well. The Volt (+33%) was up versus last year but down from recent months, while the Spark added 1709 units, which was just ahead of the Volt total but less than half that of the Sonic. Chevy's bestselling car was the fleet-fattened Cruze (+27%).
Like Chevrolet, GMC's pickups both slipped: the Sierra (-2%) and the Canyon (-29%). The Acadia crossover (-26%) joined the big SUVs in the down column. The Terrain (+44%) was the bright spot.
Again, the Verano provided the momentum at Buick, although it might be stealing some sales from the Regal (-48%). This month, the Verano got some help from the Enclave (+23%), which was up while its GMC and Chevrolet siblings were down.
The ATS and the XTS have added significantly to Cadillac's volume, more than offsetting declines for the CTS and the Escalades.
FORD MOTOR COMPANY +6%
Like General Motors, Ford's sales increase lagged the industry, and like General Motors, Ford could lay some blame on its below-average incentive spending.
The F-series had its third huge month in a row, selling some 56,000 units. The new C-Max saw its volume jump by half versus October, and the Focus had another big month (+56%) as well. The worst news was the second straight decline for the Fusion (-24%).
The Lincoln MKT was up 66%, but its figures are still only in the hundreds. More significant was the drop for the MKZ (-36%), although that comes just ahead of the launch of the new version.
TOYOTA MOTOR SALES +17%
Toyota looked good, coming off a bad year in 2011.
Despite revitalized competition, the Camry (+23%) continues to steam ahead. The ancient Corolla/Matrix (+40%) shows no sign of slowing down, but the Yaris (-61%) sure does. All Toyota trucks beat last year, with the smallest volume model, the Land Cruiser, posting the biggest percentage increase (+84%).
The new GS is now running even with the IS as the second-bestselling Lexus sedan, after the ES. The LS (+37%) enjoyed a bounce but the CT (-28%) fell.
The FR-S continues to account for much of the growth in Scion volume -- much, but not all. Credit also the iQ, although it sells at about half the rate of Scion's sports car.