November sales rise 3.6%, transaction prices up 1.7%

November sales rise 3.6%, transaction prices up 1.7%

After three months of falling sales, new-vehicle sales rallied in November, climbing 3.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 17.8 million. It was the highest sales for the month since 2001.

Incentives were strong though down slightly from a month ago, according to TrueCar as were Black Friday promotions. There were two extra selling days from a year ago. The uncertainty of the election is over, and the economy remains solid.

–All economic indicators show significantly improved optimism about the U.S. economy including consumer and business sentiment, which continue to drive a very healthy U.S. auto industry,” said GMês chief economist Mustafa Mohatarem. –We believe the U.S. auto industry is well positioned for sales to continue at or near record levels into 2017.”

Light trucks and SUVs, with sales up 8.5 percent in November, continue to outpace cars, which saw sales drop 3.1 percent. Trucks made up 59 percent of new vehicles sold. Even Washington area residents, who have traditionally favored cars, are increasingly buying utilities and light trucks, as shown by the latest WANADA Area Report, covered in the November 21 Bulletin.

Analysts are debating whether year-end sales will top last yearês. December is traditionally a strong sales month, but this year it will have one fewer selling day than a year ago. If 2016 beats last yearês total, it would mark the first seven-year sales increase in 100 years.

Average transaction prices rose 1.7 percent, which Kelley Blue Book attributes to the increase in sales of more expensive light trucks. –However, the subcompact utility segment, which is the fastest-growing segment in the industry this year, is showing signs of slowing, with prices falling by 1 percent, thanks to higher discounts used to sell down excess inventory,” said KBB analyst Tim Fleming.

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