Consumers can't resist Black Friday deals, and this year automakers got in on the frenzied action, advertising great deals on new cars, trucks, and SUVs. As a result, dealers enjoyed a surge of customers over the weekend right after Thanksgiving, and November closed with more new vehicles sold than in any month since February of 2007.
Black Friday sales promotions weren't the only reason consumers were in a shopping mood. Healthy tax breaks on vehicles with Gross Combined Vehicle Weight ratings of more than 6,000 lbs. expire on December 31, so businesses are buying trucks. Ford sold more than 65,000 F-Series trucks in November alone, and Ram pickup sales were up 22% over the same time last year. General Motors saw a gain of 19% for its Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra trucks, thanks to great deals on outgoing 2013 models and completely redesigned versions of the 2014 Silverado 1500 and Sierra 1500.
These aren't the only factors driving car sales, though. GM Chief Economist Mustafa Mohatarem told Automotive News that other factors positively impacting sales include falling gas prices, improving labor markets, and record household net wealth. Given that last point, perhaps it is not at all surprising that the brands with the strongest monthly gains in November were luxury makers Maserati (up 173%) and Jaguar (up 103%).
Clearly, though, not all consumers are ready to spend big on a new set of wheels. Mitsubishi slotted in behind Jaguar with a 48% gain, followed by Smart at 36%. Notably, Subaru continues its sales hot streak, one that proved impervious to the Great Recession. The company's sales rose 30%, compared with last November, good for a fifth-place finish in terms of year-over-year increases.
Among major automakers, Chrysler Group realized the biggest gain of 16%, thanks in part to strong sales of the redesigned 2014 Jeep Cherokee. GM (up 14%), Nissan (up 11%), and Toyota (up 10%) also enjoyed double-digital sales gains in November. Based on current numbers, it looks like the Toyota Camry will once again be crowned the best-selling car in America, while Mercedes-Benz is closing in on the luxury vehicle sales crown for 2013.
November wasn't a good month for every brand, however. Mini, Fiat, Volkswagen, and Volvo saw double-digit declines, compared with November 2012. Honda Civic sales were also down 13%, perhaps the result of announcements at the beginning of the month regarding improvements coming for the 2014 model year. And although BMW brand sales were up 1.7% for the month, the German luxury automaker watched its archrival's taillights start to fade on strong sales of the new Mercedes-Benz CLA250, which at $29,900 is the least expensive model currently wearing a three-pointed star.