Chrysler sales up with Ram, Jeep; Ford falls

Willie Grace | 12/2/2014, 11:23 a.m. | Updated on 12/2/2014, 11:23 a.m.
Chrysler Group led major automakers in posting robust November sales, setting the pace for what is forecast to be a ...
The Ram brand led the way for the Chrysler Group with deliveries rising 31 percent, while Jeep volume jumped 27 percent to 57,489 -- a November record. Ram pickup sales advanced 21 percent to a November record of 35,865, Chrysler said. Sales rose 2 percent at Dodge, 1 percent at Fiat and 30 percent at the Chrysler brand.

Audi continues to roll

Chrysler Group led major automakers in posting robust November sales, setting the pace for what is forecast to be a stellar month for the industry.

Chrysler gained 20 percent, while General Motors’ rebounded from a soft October with a 6 percent advance. Toyota Motor Corp. and the VW brand each rose 3 percent. Ford Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Corp. declined.

GM and Chrysler today both estimated the seasonally adjusted annualized sales rate for light vehicles will top 17 million units in November. That would give the industry two months above 17 million for the first time since 2006. August came in at 17.5 million.

At GM, sales rose 27 percent at Buick, 23 percent at GMC and 3 percent at Chevrolet. Volume dropped 19 percent at Cadillac. GM’s retail deliveries edged up 5 percent and fleet volume jumped 11 percent.

“The buzz around Black Friday helped drive strong showroom traffic but there was a lot more at work in the market,” Kurt McNeil, vice president for U.S. sales operations at GM, said in a statement. “More people have jobs and job security, their wages are starting to increase, household wealth is growing and low pump prices look like they’re here to stay through 2015.”

At Ford, it was the third month in a row U.S. volume has fallen as the company retools U.S. plants that build the F-150 pickup -- the nation’s top-selling vehicle. Deliveries slipped 3 percent at the Ford division but jumped 21 percent at Lincoln.

Nissan’s results ended a streak of 13 consecutive monthly sales increases.

The Ram brand led the way for the Chrysler Group with deliveries rising 31 percent, while Jeep volume jumped 27 percent to 57,489 -- a November record. Ram pickup sales advanced 21 percent to a November record of 35,865, Chrysler said. Sales rose 2 percent at Dodge, 1 percent at Fiat and 30 percent at the Chrysler brand.

The company also reported sales of 24 Alfa Romeo 4C coupes last month -- marking the brand’s official return to the U.S. market.

Fiat Chrysler’s U.S. incentives in November averaged $3,027 per vehicle, up 3 percent from November 2013, but down 2 percent from October, TrueCar estimated.

At Bob Moore Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Tulsa, Okla., buyers could get up to $7,000 off a 2014 Chrysler 300 sedan, $4,000 off a Dodge Dart and $7,000 to $10,000 off a 2014 Ram 1500 pickup, based on deals advertised on the dealership’s website Monday. Discounts on a 2014 and 2015 Jeep Cherokee were as high as $4,700.

Overall, Chrysler Group’s light-truck deliveries increased 18 percent and car volume jumped 26 percent last month. The company’s U.S. sales have now increased 56 consecutive months.

“We had 11 vehicles last month that set new sales records,” Reid Bigland, head of U.S. sales for Chrysler, said in a statement.

Audi said it surpassed -- over the Thanksgiving weekend -- its previous full-year U.S. sales record of 158,061 vehicles set in 2013. The Volkswagen Group’s luxury brand has established annual sales records in each of the past five years. The VW brand’s 3 percent gain, to 31,725 units, was its second consecutive increase after 18 monthly declines.

Industry-wide, light-vehicle sales are forecast to rise 2.5 percent from a strong November 2013 to about 1.28 million, according to the average of nine analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

The SAAR for light vehicles was projected to climb to 16.8 million, based on the average estimate of 13 analysts polled by Bloomberg. That would easily top the 16.3 million pace of a year earlier and October’s 16.5 million rate. The November 2013 figure was last year’s highest.

Dealers flooded airwaves, newspapers and the web over the Thanksgiving holiday with deals, with many of the best offers coming on cars. On Monday, Maita Toyota in Sacramento, Calif., advertised $3,577 off a 2015 Corolla LE Plus and $2,677 off a 2015 RAV4 XLE, according to the dealership’s website.

“Dealer commentary suggests the month may be shaping up to be one of the strongest Novembers on the books with the Thanksgiving weekend expected to add an additional spark to floor traffic and sales,” Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas said in a report Monday. He added that gasoline prices -- which average below $3 a gallon in most parts of the country -- will be “especially positive for light truck sales.”

Among the best offers in late November tracked by Kelley Blue Book:

• Cadillac ATS leases for 36 months at $299 a month with $749 down.

• A Mazda6 lease for 39 months at $189 a month with $1,989 due at signing.

• Zero-percent financing for 60 months on a 2014 Volkswagen Passat.

• $3,000 off a 2014 Ford Fusion

Some analysts said the sales momentum enjoyed in October continued with an even stronger month spurred by the auto industry’s continued reliance on aggressive financing tactics such as extended term loans and sub-prime leasing.

Attitudes about buying a new vehicle are also the most favorable since 2005, according to the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers.

The average transaction price for light vehicles sold last month was $32,482, up 0.6 percent from a year ago, while average incentive spending per unit declined $6 to $2,660, TrueCar estimated.

"Automakers were keen marketers in November, tapping early into Black Friday magic to boost sales to levels not seen in more than a decade," TrueCar President John Krafcik said. "While the deals were good, automakers held the line on incentives."

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