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November 2012 Car Sales: Post-Sandy, No Slump

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Between the Presidential election and the Thanksgiving holiday, auto sales for November found room to expand over last year's strong numbers.

Despite the lingering impact of Superstorm Sandy on top of those national events, car sales jumped 12 percent in November to reach 15 million annualized units for the month, according to sales analysts at LMC Automotive and J.D. Power.

Chrysler had a good November, with its sales up 14 percent versus last year. Toyota saw sales up more than 17 percent, and Honda was up nearly 39 percent. Nissan and Audi set new sales records for the month.

In all, sales were predicted to rise a little more than 2 percent over the same period in 2011. LMC believes annual sales for 2012 will total 14.4 million units, which would be up 12.5 percent on the year. That's hedged against the dire warnings of a lack of progress on tax and spending deals coming from Congress, says Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting at LMC Automotive.

"A sustained recovery pace in auto sales is expected over the next six months, barring any fiscal cliff hangover," he said in a release, "but the medium-term forecast is still dependent on more pronounced economic activity and growth."

The complete sales figures continue to roll in, but so far, the automakers are reporting the following numbers:

General Motors: GM (NYSE: GM) sold 186,505 vehicles in November, its best results for the month since 2007, and a 3.4-percent increase over last year's numbers. Each of its brands was at least flat on the month: Chevrolet sold 128,867 vehicles to remain just that, while Cadillac posted a 30.3-percent sales gain and 14,517 sales. Buick moved 13,289 vehicles, an increase of 22.1 percent, and GMC was up 1.2 percent to 29,832 units. The Chevrolet Volt watched its sales grow by 33 percent, but GM's pickups were off 8 percent on the eve of a major redesign, to be announced on December 13.

Ford: Ford Motor Company [NYSE:F] saw sales rise by 6 percent to 177,673 vehicles in November. The Ford division accounted for 171,941 units; the Focus was up 56 percent and the Mustang was up 37.4 percent, but the Fusion sedan, in the midst of a model changeover, was off 24 percent. The cash-cow F-Series trucks were up almost 18 percent. The Lincoln division was off 9.1 percent.

Toyota / Lexus / Scion: Toyota said its sales were up 17.2 percent on the month, to a total of 161,695 units in November 2012. The Toyota division accounted for 138,976 units, up 17.3 percent; Lexus was up 16.8 percent to 22,719 units; and Scion rose 57.8 percent to 5,606 vehicles sold, with the 2013 FR-S coupe a big mover at 1,350 units.

Chrysler: Chrysler reported November sales of 122,565 units, up 14 percent, its best November since 2007. All of its brands were up except Jeep. The namesake Chrysler brand was up 1 percent to 18,766 vehicles, while Dodge rose 32 percent to 40,075 units--its best November in five years. Jeep was off 3 percent, attributed to the end of Liberty production and the Sandy aftermath in the brand's stronghold of the Northeast. Ram truck sales grew to 25,074 units, up 23 percent, and Fiat 500 sales were up 123 percent over the same period in 2011, to 3,603 units.

Honda / Acura: Honda showed more strength as it continued to recover from the March 2011 earthquake in Japan and from media coverage of the new Civic. Honda sold 116,580 vehicles, up 38.9 percent, with the Honda division accounting for 104,334 units of sales--up 41 percent. Acura was up 23.6 percent, to 12,246 vehicles. The Civic--which just underwent a quick redesign, launched at the LA Auto Show--broke a 12-year November sales record by shifting 30,075 units.

Nissan / Infiniti: The Nashville-based automaker set an all-time November sales record with 96,197 vehicles sold, up 12.9 percent. Sales of Nissan-brand vehicles rose 9.8 percent, with the new Pathfinder boosting the nameplate by 250 percent over the prior version; the Leaf electric car hit 1,539 sales for the month, up 129 percent. Infiniti sales were up 41.2 percent, to 11,897 units, with the JX crossover nearing 20,000 sales in its first nine months on the market.

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