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Holiday weekend gives a boost to US auto sales

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.

“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.

Chrysler's U.S. sales rose a surprising 16 percent in November, while General Motors posted a 14 percent gain. Nissan sales rose 11 percent, while Toyota was up 10 percent. Ford notched a 7-percent gain and Hyundai sales rose just under 5 percent. Of major automakers, only Volkswagen and Honda reported sales drops. VW brand sales were down 16 percent, while Honda sales were off less than 1 percent.

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 crossovers continued to gobble up market share during November, gaining two 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 around 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.

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Uzi Sasson looks at a Jeep Cherokee diesel on the showroom floor of the Hollywood Chrysler Jeep dealership in Hollywood, Florida on Tuesday, Dec. 3. U.S. auto sales clocked their fastest pace in nearly seven years as holiday deals boosted already strong demand, industry data showed Tuesday.

(AFP)

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