With November now on the books, the auto industry heads into the final, year-end selling season with a head of still-cautious optimism — but optimism nonetheless. In November, automakers chalked up another solid sales increase over 2009, this time 17 percent; that’s an improvement on October’s 13 percent uptick. For the third month in a row, the annualized selling rate topped 12 million units. By comparison, 10.86 million light vehicles were sold in 2009. This month, nearly every automaker enjoyed buoyant sales, with the large and notable exception of Toyota, which was down slightly. See below for more details. And, with car shoppers apparently cracking open their wallets, brace yourself for an onslaught of end-of-the-year sales ads, as carmakers battle fiercely for their share of an increasing pie.
GENERAL MOTORS +21% (Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and GMC only)
GM outpaced the overall market slightly, although the company’s more significant achievement in November was its successful stock IPO.
Buick was again GM’s fastest-growing division in November, as the Regal added nearly 2000 units to the 11,725 total. Still, it’s only selling at half the pace of the Enclave (+25%) and the LaCrosse (+20%), but it has passed the skidding Lucerne (-14%)
Sales of Cadillac cars and trucks grew at a nearly equal pace last month. Of the latter, though, the SRX (+36%) continues to outpace the Escalade. On the car side, the CTS (+38%), already far and away the biggest nameplate, continues to grow in importance.
The Equinox (+61%), Traverse (+41%), and the Silverado (+16%) drove the gains on the truck side, which in turn powered Chevrolet overall. Looking at the cars, the new Cruze slotted in below the Malibu and the Impala, but ahead of all the other nameplates, including the Camaro (-39%), which slumped.
GMC again rode the wave of strong truck sales, although the biggest volume increases were in crossovers: Acadia (+43%) and Terrain (+60%).
FORD MOTOR COMPANY +24% (excluding Volvo)
Ford posted the biggest year-over-year sales increase of the domestic automakers, and has cemented its position as the number two biggest car company in the U.S. marketplace, with 1.77 million units sold year-to-date versus 1.58 million for number three Toyota. Last year through November, Toyota was ahead 1.58 million to Ford’s 1.49.
Ford division was the opposite of Chevrolet, in that car sales grew faster than truck sales in November, although both divisions outpaced the industry overall. Ford’s car side benefitted from the addition of the Fiesta, but it’s still a relatively small factor (its 3473 sales were only a bit more than the increase in Focus sales from last year’s 10,196 to this year’s 13,030). All car nameplates increased except the Taurus (-11%), which was the division’s biggest laggard.
Ford’s fade-out division had one positive mover, the Mariner (+18%), otherwise it was all down hill.
The MKZ (+48%) and MKX (39%) both had a big month, but the MKS (-22%), the MKT (-9%), and the Navigator (-9%) all fell back.
TOYOTA MOTOR SALES -3%
Toyota continues to struggle to put any momentum together. It has not participated in the 2010 rally; its year-to-date volume is still at 2009 levels. That has dropped it back to third place. Toyota division’s bread-and-butter cars are experiencing weakness, as is the Lexus division.
Toyota’s sales problems aren’t on the truck side. Although most Toyota trucks didn’t do as well as the 4Runner (+141%) and the Highlander (+47%), all except the FJ Cruiser (-3%) were in the black. Cars, though, were a different story, lead by significant drops for the two volume players, the Camry (-24%) and the Corolla/Matrix (-26%). The former still managed to hang on as the bestselling car, but the latter was passed by the Honda Civic, the Ford Fusion, and the Ram pickup.
A monster month for the GX sport-utility (+558%) and a modest (+20%) increase for the LS couldn’t overcome declines for every other Lexus nameplate, the sharpest being for the HS hybrid (-44%), which saw a similar decline last month.
For Scion, it’s all about the tC. The new coupe nearly doubled sales of the old car, and it single-handedly responsible for the brand’s increase over last year.
AMERICAN HONDA +21%
Honda stayed ahead of Chrysler in November, thanks to a solid performance across the board, except for the aging (but not terrible significant) Ridgeline and Element.
The Accord’s 10% increase wasn’t quite enough to dethrone the Camry, but the Civic’s 21% gain pushed it past the Corolla/Matrix. Still, the biggest driver of Honda’s sales increase was the CR-V (+31%).
The RL (-5%) reverted to its losing ways in November, but Acura’s four volume nameplates were all strong. With 156 units in November, the ZDX, though, is obviously still struggling to find an audience.
CHRYSLER GROUP +17%
Chrysler’s sales increase looked good in November, but not quite as good as it has the previous two months. Rather than all four brands participating, we had two up and two down. But the new and improved products for Chrysler and Dodge are mostly still to come.
It was a bad month for the Chrysler division, with every nameplate declining save the expiring PT Cruiser.
A wild month for Dodge ahead of the new Charger and Durango arrivals. The Caliber saw a huge upswing off of last year’s ultra-low volume, and the Nitro had a big jump too (+88%), but the Journey fell by half.
It’s no surprise that Jeep was a major engine of Chrysler’s growth, and it’s no surprise that the Grand Cherokee, whose sales more than tripled, was the star of the Jeep lineup. The Patriot (+43%) and the Wrangler (+34%) also lent a hand.
Even more so than last month, the big Ram pickup posted big numbers (+86%) — it’s 18,000+ sales should have been enough to muscle into the five top-selling nameplates, but a resurgent Nissan Altima skipped past it by just 166 units.
NISSAN NORTH AMERICA +27%
Nissan’s 27% increase was enough to push it ahead of the white-hot Koreans.
The Altima (+19%) played out of its mind in November, and for the second month in a row found itself in the top five bestsellers. The Rogue (+67%) and most of the big trucks also did well, while the Maxima (-14%), the Cube (-36%), and the sports cars declined.
Infiniti was on fire in November, and the division almost looks like it could break 100,000 units this year. The M (+167%) and the QX56 (+148%) grabbed headlines, but the G (+23%) was just as important from a volume perspective.
HYUNDAI GROUP +46%
The Korean colossus racked up the biggest sales gain of any major manufacturer in November, with both brands contributing.
All Hyundais were in positive territory, but nothing topped the Tucson (+243%) for sales growth in November. The Sonata and the Genesis chalked up the same percent increase (+72%), but of course the Sonata’s was on much larger volume.
At Kia, the new Sorrento was a five-bagger (+481%) while the new Sportage saw a relatively mild 38% increase. The second-fastest-growing Kia was the not-so-new-anymore Soul (+123%). Unlike Hyundai, Kia suffered some declines, with the Amanti, Optima (surprisingly), Rio, Sedona, and the soon-to-be-departing Rondo and Borrego.
VOLKSWAGEN GROUP +28%
The new Jetta jumped by 40% while the new Touareg more than doubled. The not-at-all-new Routan had another good month (+99%). Downers included the CC (-18%), the Passat (-30%), and the Eos (-31%).
At opposite ends of the spectrum, the A3 had another good month (+102%) as did the new A8, which tripled. All Audis saw gains, except the TT (-35%).
BMW GROUP +27%
BMW’s increase came mostly on the strength of its volume models, the 5-series (+58%), the 3-series (+37%), and the X5 (+24%). The 7-series (-23%) and the Z4 (-50%) both dropped, as did the X3 (-66%), although the X3 is about to be replaced by a new model.
The new, mildly revised Cooper experienced a mild sales increase. The big gains won’t come until the Countryman arrives early next year.
Rolls Royce -7%
As in October and September, Rolls Royce delivered 26 cars in November. But last November, Rolls delivered 28.
Subaru’s winning ways continued in November. What was different this time is that the Impreza (+33%) marked the biggest increase; what was even more out of the ordinary was that the Tribeca actually participated in the fun, with 3 more sold than a year ago.
DAIMLER A.G. +10%
Mercedes’ increase was disappointing because it trailed the industry overall, and — probably more so given the intensity of the rivalry amongst the German luxury brand — because it was less than half of that seen at BMW and Audi. Mercedes cars were flat overall; the only real good news came from the truck side, particularly the GL (+48%) and the M (+30%).
Smart’s ongoing sales decline accelerated a bit in November.
The 3 Maybach deliveries were half the number of last November, but no fewer than in October.
Mazda had a somewhat disappointing November, as it lost a bit of market share to its faster-growing competitors. The Mazda2 added 462 units, which put it ahead of the Tribute and the Miata. Both crossovers slipped a bit; the sports cars fell a bit more; but at least the Mazda6 had a decent increase (+21%).
A welcome big gain for Mitusbishi came via the Endeavor (+329%) — of all things — and the addition of the Outlander Sport.
The new S60 is selling pretty well, while the XC60 is up a bit and the aging XC90 is hanging in there. That’s the good news. All the rest is bad news for Volvo, particularly the big declines for the S40/V50, the S80, and the XC70.
JAGUAR LAND ROVER +22%
Jaguar sold more than 10 times as many XJ sedans as a year ago, making the XJ the bestselling Jag. But it wasn’t enough to overcome weakness in the XF, which fell by half.
Land Rover +35%
Again, the LR4 (+155%) and the LR2 (+42%) outperformed the Range Rovers, but everyone did better than last year.
The Boxster (+42%) and the 911 (+21%) had a good November, but not as good as the Panamera, which doubled its sales, or the new Cayenne, which increased by more than half. Sports cars are now outsold both by SUVs and four-door sedans at Porsche.
After months of sinking sales, Suzuki actually had some good news — really good news — in November. Most all of it was due to the addition of the Kizashi.
Although up a fraction over last year, Saab sales dropped significantly compared to last month.
TOP 5 BESTSELLING NAMEPLATES (and rank last month)
1. Ford F-series 38,541 (#1)
2. Chevy Silverado 25,619 (#2)
3. Toyota Camry 20,737 (#3)
4. Honda Accord 19,025 (#4)
5. Nissan Altima 18,372 (#5)
Note: In October we erroneously listed the Toyota Corolla/Matrix in the #5 spot, but the Altima was the #5 bestseller last month.