By Andrew Ganz
Monday, Dec 3rd, 2012 @ 3:26 pm
 

With just one month to go, 2012 is shaping to be a pretty strong year for the auto industry.

Sales of more than 1.14 million new cars last month topped most analyst estimates, signaling that the general turnaround in the auto industry was able to withstand the uncertainty imposed by Hurricane Sandy in the Northeastern United States.

For the most part, new car sales are about on par with what they were several years ago before the recession hit and buyers kept their wallets in their pockets.

November's Numbers

Acura - Up 24 percent to 12,246
Audi - Up 24 percent to 12,067
BMW - Up 45 percent to 31,213
Buick - Up 22 percent to 13,289
Cadillac - Up 30 percent to 14,517
Chevrolet - Flat at 128,867
Chrysler - Up 1 percent to 18,766
Dodge - Up 32 percent to 40,075
Fiat - Up 123 percent to 3,603
Ford - Up 7 percent to 171,941
GMC - Up 1 percent to 29,832
Honda - Up 41 percent to 104,334
Hyundai - Up 8 percent to 53,487
Infiniti - Up 41 percent to 11,897
Jaguar - Down 22 percent to 713
Jeep - Down 3 percent to 35,047
Kia - Up 11 percent to 41,055
Land Rover - Down 3 percent to 3,687
Lexus - Up 17 percent to 22,719
Lincoln - Down 9 percent to 5,732
Maserati - Up 9 percent to 208
Mazda - Up 18 percent to 21,691
Mercedes-Benz - Up 15 percent to 31,945
Mitsubishi - Down 4 percent to 3,574
MINI - Up 11 percent to 5,248
Nissan - Up 10 percent to 84,300
Porsche - Up 71 percent to 3,865
Ram - Up 23 percent to 25,074
Smart - Up 70 percent to 704
Subaru - Up 60 percent to 28,206
Toyota (Includes Scion) - Up 17 percent to 138,976
Volkswagen - Up 29 percent to 36,728
Volvo - Up 27 percent to 6,141

BMW Group - Up 39 percent to 36,461
Chrysler - Up 14 percent to 122,575
Daimler - Up 16 percent to 32,652
Ford Motor Company - Up 7 percent to 177,673
General Motors - Up 3 percent to 186,505
American Honda - Up 39 percent to 116,580
Hyundai Group - Up 9 percent to 94,542
Jaguar Land Rover - Down 7 percent to 4,735
Nissan North America - Up 13 percent to 96,197
Toyota USA - Up 17 percent to 161,695

2012 YTD Numbers
Acura - Up 27 percent to 140,182
Audi - Up 19 percent to 124,469
BMW - Up 10 percent to 244,061
Buick - Up 1 percent to 163,935
Cadillac - Down 3 percent to 131,534
Chevrolet - Up 4 percent to 1,684,555
Chrysler - Up 43 percent to 282,454
Dodge - Up 15 percent to 472,598
Fiat - Up 130 percent to 40,065
Ford - Up 5 percent to 196,177
GMC - Up 4 percent to 369,960
Honda - Up 23 percent to 1,149,829
Hyundai - Up 8 percent to 643,572
Infiniti - Up 23 percent to 107,250
Jaguar - Down 1 percent to 10,962
Jeep - Up 16 percent to 434,260
Kia - Up 17 percent to 518,421
Land Rover - Up 15 percent to 38,490
Lexus - Up 23 percent to 213,559
Lincoln - Down 3 percent to 74,766
Maserati - Up 15 percent to 2,397
Mazda - Up 10 percent to 249,795
Mercedes-Benz - Up 13 percent to 264,616
Mitsubishi - Down 28 percent to 53,677
MINI - Up 15 percent to 59,667
Nissan - Up 10 percent to 935,116
Porsche - Up 18 percent to 32,091
Ram - Up 17 percent to 270,043
Smart - Up 100 percent to 9,013
Subaru - Up 29 percent to 299,788
Toyota (Includes Scion) - Up 30 percent to 1,675,802
Volkswagen - Up 35 percent to 394,128
Volvo - Flat at 61,967

BMW Group - Up 11 percent to 303,728
Chrysler - Up 22 percent to 1,499,420
Daimler - Up 15 percent to 273,671
Ford Motor Company - Up 5 percent to 2,035,943
General Motors - Up 4 percent to 2,349,984
American Honda - Up 24 percent to 1,290,011
Hyundai Group - Up 12 percent to 1,161,993
Jaguar Land Rover - Up 11 percent to 49,452
Nissan North America - Up 11 percent to 1,042,366
Toyota USA - Up 29 percent to 1,888,361

The Domestics

Chrysler continues to be Detroit's best story, at least as far as raw sales figures are considered. Aside from a lapse in its Jeep brand (which had a particularly strong November 2011), virtually every Chrysler product posted improved sales.

Notable standouts include a 23 percent gain for the Ram pickup and a 26 percent gain for the Dodge Avenger.

Ford saw its biggest gain come from the Focus compact sedan (up 56 percent). Other big percentage gainers included the Mustang (up 37 percent) and Transit Connect (up 37 percent). Interestingly, combed sales for the two police interceptors (592 Taurus-based sedans and 484 Explorer-based crossovers) pretty much pegged last year's 1,103 Crown Victoria sales.

While Ford's namesake division had reason to be happy enough, Lincoln continues to trend downward - but a closer look at the numbers reveals a better picture than you might expect. The only two nameplates to post a decline were the MKZ, which will be replaced next month by a new model, and the discontinued Town Car.

GM's mainstream Chevrolet division delivered essentially flat sales, although it's worth noting that the Chevrolet Equinox outsold the Chevrolet Cruze by 14 units. Chevy sold 1,519 Volts, a 33 percent increase that brings the car to 20,828 for the year.

At GM's other divisions, the best news came from Buick and Cadillac, both of which have seen middling sales so far this year. Buick Enclave (up 23 percent) and Cadillac's new ATS and XTS (2,152 and 2,414 units, respectively) were the best news at the two brands. Conversely, sales of the Buick Regal tanked 48 percent.

The Asians

Posting its best November ever, Nissan's namesake division was heavily boosted by a strong-selling Altima (20,305 sold). The automaker's Infiniti luxury division also had one of its strongest months ever thanks to solid numbers from its larger three-row vehicles, the JX (2,529 units) and QX (2,121 units).

Last month was American Honda's best November ever (Acura and Honda combined), a real feat for a brand that routinely has a few cars in the top 10 list.

The biggest individual news was the ninth monthly sales record for the Honda CR-V and the best sales in 22 years for the Honda Civic.

The automaker's Acura unit was a bit more tepid, although it's worth noting that the ILX (2,108 units) outsold every other Acura passenger car.

Concerns about Hyundai overstating its products' fuel economy didn't keep buyers from snapping up the automaker's cars last month, which ranks as its best November ever. Sales were up for most volume models aside from a small dip in Tucson and Veloster demand.

Meanwhile, sister brand Kia saw sales increase for all but one model (the Sedona), pushing it to its best November ever as well.

Mazda has had mixed news the last few years, but solid demand for its smaller models boosted it to its best November ever - and that's with limited inventory of its mainstream Mazda6 midsize sedan, a new version of which hits the market early next year.

America's love affair with the Toyota Camry continues... sales were up 23 percent (to 28,765) last month. Otherwise, only the Toyota Yaris (down a big 61 percent) and Scion tC (down 5 percent to 1,493, which was still above the 1,350 FR-Ss sold) posted declines on the automaker's sales sheet.

At Toyota's Lexus division, it was a more mixed bag with a 26 percent drop for the IS and a 37 percent gain for the LS standing out perhaps the most.

The Europeans

A month short of the end of the year, Audi broke its annual sales record on strong demand almost across the line.

BMW had its best November ever thanks to a huge gain for the 3-Series range, which topped 10,000 units (10,776 total), making up about half of the brand's passenger car volume. Aside from modest volume declines from the 1 and 7 series models, BMW's sales were almost all up more than 40 percent each last month.

MINI saw decent numbers for everything but its new and quirky coupe, which was off 48 percent from last year.

With a bevy of new powertrains (and one new vehicle) set to hit the market in the coming weeks, Jaguar and Land Rover's sales were down. We anticipate both brands will post a fairly large turnaround once the full range of revised 2013 models go on sale.

VW will finish the year way more than half way to its goal of selling 800,000 cars here (between all of its brands) by 2018, but it still has a lot of volume to gain. Still, a 75 percent gai nin Passat sales, a 52 percent bumper in Tiguan sales and almost 2,000 Beetles helps.

Volvo's XC60 sold like hotcakes last month - it posted a 167 percent gain. Given that the brand is shedding models left and right - the S40, C30, V50 and V70 have all called it quits in the last year or so - the brand's 27 percent volume gain is pretty impressive.

Leftlane's bottom line

Overall, industry sales were up about 15 percent last month, due in part to lingering effects from last year's earthquake and tsunami that crippled Japanese vehicle production. Last November, automakers were still struggling to build new car inventory, a problem that has been entirely alleviated.

Still, that 15 percent gain is undeniably great for the new car industry, which last month outpaced the industry average so far this year.

Especially good news came from BMW, Toyota, Honda and Chrysler, but we still question some brands' reliance on less profitable - but much easier - fleet sales.