Big Three Show Big November

December 3, 2010, 9:13 AM HST
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Brick and mortar and online retailers are enjoying their Thanksgiving weekend hauls, but it may be the automotive sector that shows the biggest smile.  New November auto sales data shows double-digit sales growth over the year ago period for each of Detroit’s darlings.

Of the big three automakers, Ford Motor performed best, recording 20 percent year over year sales growth from November 2009.  Chrysler followed with 17 percent sales growth and General Motors lagged the pack with a still impressive 11% sales gain exactly two weeks following its heavily anticipated initial public offering.

Ford’s shining star continues to be its line of trucks, which posted 34 percent gains in November.  The new Ford Fusion also breached a new full-year sales record by November.  The Fusion is available with a gasoline powered or hybrid engine.  All in all, Ford Motor Company moved 147,000 vehicles.

Chrysler continues to grow on its popular Jeep and Ram trucks.  Recent restructuring has allowed the company to claim quasi-profitability on the slowest sales of any of the Big Three.  The company sold 74,000 vehicles in November 2010.

General Motors sold 169,000 vehicles in November 2010, up from 151,000 sold in November 2009.  The company’s growth bucks the overwhelming trend, with its higher-end and larger vehicle varieties selling faster than its smaller automobiles.  The Chevrolet Equinox and Cadillac SRX SUVs fit comfortably between crossover and full sized sport utility vehicle status.  It’s infamous Buick brand led all others, rising 36 percent on Chinese automotive strength.

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All of the Big Three automakers just fresh out of their worst corporate downturns in history are delicately walking a fine line between growing too quickly and growing too slowly. While others discuss massive sales gains, other analysts see recent upticks as a natural result of lackluster demand for nearly two years, as consumers who put new car purchases on the backburner in 2009 are coming out to shop in 2010.

For analysts, the important figure isn’t the projection of 11.5 million units sold annually.  Instead, analysts are focusing on 12.5 million—the number of cars that are worn out and recycled.  Backdating present trends, analysts expect that far more cars reached their end of life than have been replaced, allowing for pent up demand to be a main driver of sales growth for quite some time.

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