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Storm Pushes Car Sales To Post-Recession High

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(credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

(credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

jeffgilbert Jeff Gilbert
Automotive reporter for WWJ Newsradio 950 and CBS Radio News....
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AUBURN HILLS — (WWJ) Car and truck sales are coming in at rates not seen in nearly five years.   Sales are expected to be more than ten percent higher than November of 2011, with an annual sales rate topping fifteen million.   It’s shaping up to be the best sales month since at least February of 2008.

“November is looking to be a very good month,” said analyst Michelle Krebs with Edmunds.com.  “It’s actually stronger than we anticipated.”

GM sales rose 3.4 percent in November.  Ford sales are up 6 percent. Chrysler sales jumping 14 percent.

“Even with all the talk of a looming fiscal cliff, Chrysler Group is well positioned for a strong sales finish to the year,” said Reid Bigland, President and CEO – Dodge Brand and Head of U.S. Sales. “Our November sales were up 14 percent and we extended our sales streak to 32-consecutive months of year-over-year sales gains. We are expecting a strong December as the industry continues to recover from the East Coast hurricane and consumers continue to respond to our popular year-end Big Finish event.”

It was a record month for the Fiat 500, Dodge Journey and Jeep Wrangler.

Sales were helped by demand for vehicles to replace those damaged by Hurricane Sandy.  GM Sales Operations Manager Kurt McNeil says demand was exceptionally strong in states hit hardest by the storm.

“The markets in New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware.  They were more significantly impacted.  They are starting to see greater replenishment out of those states.”

Ford sales analysis manager Erich Merkel says there was an impact from the storm.

“We estimate that replacement demand from Hurricane Sandy accounte for an additional,  roughly, 20 to 30 thousand vehicles in November industrywide.”

But, Edmunds.com analyst Michelle Krebs says there are also other strong factors at work, including an aging car fleet, which is adding to pent-up demand.

“People have kept their vehicles so long, and we’ve seen credit more widely available.  And, there’s some great product on the market.”

Ford says it was a great month for small cars, a record month for hybrids, and the best month for the F-150 pickup in 7 years.

“November represented a strong month for the industry, and Ford sales performed well across the board,” said Ken Czubay, Ford vice president, U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service. “We saw sharp increases in demand for Ford’s fuel-efficient small cars, our best-ever month for electrified vehicles and growing demand for our fuel-efficient and capable F-Series pickups.”

Ford says the strong sales pace in November will lead it to increase production by 11 percent in the first quarter of 2013.

Import brands also posted some solid numbers.  Toyota says its sales rose 17 percent.

Volkswagen sales are up 29 percent.  Nissan is reporting a 13 percent increase in sales.  Hyundai had its best November ever, with sales up 8 percent.  Honda has already said that November will be its best US sales month ever, but hasn’t released hard numbers yet.

Suburu posted a sales increase of 59 percent.  But that’s a brand that has relatively small sales overall.  So, any change in sales means a big difference percentage wise.

WWJ AutoBeat Reporter Jeff Gilbert is following today’s car sales reports. For instant updates, check out his Twitter feed (@jefferygilbert.)

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