Automakers posted their third-strongest monthly sales of the year in November, with a 17.55 million seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) on total monthly sales of 1.4 million units. Analysts were expecting a SAAR of 17.3 million.
Sales drivers for the month were light truck (pickups, SUVs and crossovers) sales along with handsome deals for buyers.
The Detroit Three posted mixed results. Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) put up a gain of 7% year over year in November, with sales of more than 210,000 units. General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) posted a sales decline of 2.9% but still sold more than 245,000 units. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (NYSE: FCAU) slipped 3.8% year over year, with unit sales of 156,000.
Among the big winners were Nissan with an increase of 18.1% to nearly 136,000 units and Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (NYSE: HMC) with a gain of 8.3% and sales of more than 133,000 units. Volkswagen posted a gain of 2.9% to more than 54,000 units.
The top-selling non-U.S. carmaker based on units sold remains Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM), with sales of nearly 192,000. However, that was a decline of 3.1% compared to November 2016 sales. Hyundai-Kia saw sales drop 11.7% to 101,500 units.
In the luxury sector, Mercedes-Benz outsold BMW, with unit sales of 34,242 compared with 32,197 for BMW. But Beamer sales rose 4.5%, more than double the 2.2% year-over-year growth posted by Mercedes.
The average November incentive according to ALG was $3,692, up 4.6% year over year from November 2016 and down 2.1% compared with September 2017, the month with the most U.S. sales so far this year. Daimler, makers of Mercedes-Benz and smart, led the pack with an average incentive of $4,844, up 1.6% year over year and down 2.5% from September. GM was a close second with an average incentive of $4,785, up 7.1% year over year and down 8.3% from the prior month. Toyota offered the smallest incentive, $2,651, up 7.5% year over year and up 6.1% from September.
Although volume sales are on track to top 17 million again in 2017, sales will fall short of last year’s SAAR of 18.1 million and 2015’s SAAR of 17.3 million. Estimates range around 17.1 and 17.2 million for 2017, with the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) last week forecasting 2018 sales of 16.7 million.