AUTO SALES LIVE: Industry momentum rolls on

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Cars are lined-up in a dealership lot. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Cars are lined-up in a dealership lot. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

The holiday weekend and an ongoing shift from cars to small SUVs boosted the auto industry in November.

Buyers took advantage of Black Friday deals, and analysts say the late-month surge likely boosted November sales above a strong month last year.

Chrysler kicked off the sales reports by topping expectations with a gain of 16 percent. General Motors posted an increase of 14 percent while Ford sales rose 7 percent. Toyota had a 10 percent increase, Nissan sales rose 11 percent and Hyundai reported a gain of nearly 5 percent. Honda had a small decline, while Volkswagen sales dropped 16 percent.

Here’s a running account of sales reports for the day, presented in reverse chronological order. All times are EST.

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— 3:05 p.m. More on the red-hot small crossover SUV segment: The segment-leading Honda CR-V posted a 5.3 percent sales increase and is now out-selling the Ford Escape by 275,145 to 271,531 on the year. The redesigned Toyota RAV4 had the sharpest gain in the segment, up nearly 57 percent last month.

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— 3:00 p.m.: When Black Friday comes: Toyota said more than 25 percent of its sales for the month came on the final weekend. GM acknowledged that Black Friday is becoming more important for the auto industry, saying “it’s obviously becoming a bigger go-to-market strategy in automotive, a little more consistent with other industries.”

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— 2:25 p.m.: Preliminary figures from Autodata show sales ran at an annual rate of 16.4 million vehicles last month. For the year so far, Ford boasts the biggest sales gain among companies that sell at least 1 million vehicles in the U.S. at 11.7 percent, followed by Chrysler at 9.6 percent. BMW and Mercedes-Benz could both top 300,000 in U.S. sales for the year, and each shows a double-digit gain over last year.

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— 2:15 p.m.: Autodata estimates that Tesla, which doesn’t report monthly figures, sold 1,550 Model S electric cars in the U.S. in November and has sold 17,801 to date.

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— 1:30 p.m.: When Chrysler brought back the Cherokee to replace the Liberty, Jeep enthusiasts were upset that the styling was too far of a departure from the traditional Jeep look. Chrysler naturally was looking to expand the model’s appeal, and appears to have succeeded out of the gate.

“I think maybe the purists are losing out to the masses here, at least initially,” said Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of auto sales forecasting for LMC Automotive, an industry consulting firm. “There’s plenty about the vehicle that appeals to a general consumer.”

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— 12:50 p.m.: Investors have ignored the sales reports, instead focusing on the possibility of the Federal Reserve pulling back on stimulus measures. In early afternoon trading, GM shares are down 2 percent to $38.34, Ford shares are off 2.8 percent to $16.59 and Honda’s American depositary shares are down 1.2 percent to $41.39. Even with Tuesday’s declines, both Ford and GM are showing gains of more than 30 percent for the year.

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— 11:15 a.m.: Americans love a rivalry. In the annual battle between the Ford Mustang and the Chevrolet Camaro, the Camaro is set to win the 2013 contest. Year to date, the Chevy has sales of 75,552, compared with 71,540 for the Ford model. Ford rolls out the latest version of the popular pony car this week, with events around the country.

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— 11:00 a.m.: Little slowdown in pickups: Ford sold 65,501 F-Series pickup trucks in November, the seventh straight month where sales topped 60,000. Consider that it takes the company more than two months to sell that many Fusion midsize cars or Escape SUVs, Ford next best-selling vehicles. GM sold 48,748 Chevy Silverados and GMC Sierras combined, while Chrysler says Ram pickup sales totaled 29,635.

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— 10:50 a.m.: GM likes the big picture. Kurt McNeil, GM’s U.S. sales chief, said the company feels good about the overall economy and its own sales momentum. “The economy is creating jobs and household wealth,” he said. “Energy costs are dropping and credit is available and affordable. All of this bodes well for future growth.”

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— 10:40 a.m. It’s electric: Sales of the Chevy Volt gained 26 percent to 1,920, while sales of the Nissan Leaf jumped 30 percent to 2,003. Although the two are the best-selling electric vehicles in the U.S., more attention lately has been focused on the Tesla Model S, which sells for about twice the price. The Model S has exceeded sales expectations, but is also the subject of a government investigation after two of the vehicles experienced fires.

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— 10:30 a.m.: With a big month for sales of the Jeep Cherokee, Chrysler took advantage of a shift in the market toward smaller SUVs. Erich Merkle, Ford’s top sales analyst, said small crossover SUVs like the Cherokee and Ford Escape continued to gobble up market share during November, gaining two full percentage points over a year ago to 15.5 percent of U.S. sales. The gains came at the expense of small and midsize cars. Midsize cars fell one point to 14.5 percent, while small cars dropped a point to around 20 percent, Merkle said.

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— 10:10 a.m.: Thanksgiving turkey apparently didn’t make car buyers sleepy. Toyota credited the holiday weekend with pushing its sales gains to 10 percent.

“Showroom traffic surged over the holiday weekend for Toyota, indicating good momentum we expect to continue through the end of the year and into 2014,” said Bill Fay, Toyota division group vice president and general manager.

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— 10 a.m.: General Motors reports a sales increase of 14 percent, led by pickups, the Chevy Tahoe SUV and the Chevy Impala large car.

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— 9:45 a.m.: Ford sales rose 7 percent last month. Sales of F-Series pickups gained 16 percent, and the midsize Fusion rose 51 percent. But the Focus small car slumped, with a decline of 17 percent.

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— 9:20 a.m. The star for Chrysler is the all-new Cherokee small sports utility vehicle. Delayed for months while engineers tinkered with the transmission, the Cherokee notched a rate achievement in November: Sales of more than 10,000 in its first full month on the market.

“That is a big number,” said LMC’s Jeff Schuster.

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— 8 a.m. Chrysler beats expectations for an increase of around 10 percent. The Auburn Hills, Mich., company sells 142,275 cars and trucks last month, up from 122,565 a year ago.

The Chrysler brand gains 12 percent as dealers sell 11,288 Town & Country minivans, up 70 percent from the same month last year. The pickup boom rolls on — Ram sales gained 22 percent.

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–7:45 a.m. Analysts expect November industry sales to rise from 3.6 percent to 6.3 percent. Here’s a recap of forecasts from companies that track sales and also provide car-buying advice:

— TrueCar.com: sales of 1.21 million, up 6.3 percent.

— Edmunds.com: sales of 1.2 million, up 4.7 percent.

— Kelly Blue Book: sales of 1.19 million, up 3.6 percent.

 

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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