DETROIT — The holiday weekend was good to U.S. automakers, as November sales rose 9 percent to beat strong numbers from a year ago.
Sales ran at an annual rate of 16.4 million cars and trucks last month, making it the best rate of the year, according to Autodata Corp.
Normally, November is a lackluster month for auto sales. But automakers, particularly Ford and General Motors, offered deals this year that brought out buyers, according to the Kelley Blue Book auto website.
"Industry sales in November picked up after Thanksgiving, contributing to the best sales pace of the year," said Bill Fay, Toyota division group vice president and general manager.
Kurt McNeil, GM's U.S. sales chief, attributed the strong sales pace to better conditions for consumers.
"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."
Small crossover SUVs like the new Jeep Cherokee were once again the stars for the month. The Cherokee notched the rare achievement of sales of more than 10,000 in its first full month on the market. The crossovers continued to gobble up market share during November, gaining 2 full percentage points over a year ago to 15.5 percent of U.S. sales, said Erich Merkle, Ford's top sales analyst.
The gains came at the expense of small and midsize cars. Midsize cars' share of the market fell one point to 14.5 percent, while small cars dropped a point to about 20 percent, Merkle said. Both Ford and GM said competitors offered big discounts on their small and midsize cars and predicted that trend would continue.
Overall, Chrysler sold just over 142,000 vehicles last month for its best November in six years, up from nearly 123,000 a year ago. Sales of Jeeps rose 30 percent, and the brand had its best November ever.
Both GM and Chrysler reported their best November sales since 2007. GM sales rose to 212,060, up from 186,505.
GM was led by larger vehicles, with its top-selling Chevy Silverado pickup posting a 12 percent gain. The GMC Sierra pickup saw sales rise 23 percent. Large SUVs also had big sales, with the Chevrolet Tahoe up 23 percent. Big cars also were up. The Chevy Impala posted a 20 percent gain, while the Cadillac XTS was up 42 percent.
The double-digit pickup gains were repeated at Ford and Chrysler. Sales of Ford's F-Series rose 16 percent to 65,501. For Chrysler, sales of the Ram pickup increased by 22 percent.