Toyota, Nissan Lead Asian Brands’ Gains on Black Friday BounceAlan Ohnsman
Toyota Motor Corp. and Nissan Motor Co. led U.S. sales gains for Asian automakers, topping analysts’ estimates with stronger-than-expected November deliveries that were buoyed by Black Friday shoppers.
Sales climbed 10 percent from a year earlier for Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, and 11 percent for Nissan, after six analysts surveyed by Bloomberg had estimated average gains of 6.5 percent and 3.1 percent, respectively. Japanese and South Korean carmakers reported a combined increase of 7.9 percent.
“Black Friday weekend, the last weekend of the month, was huge for the entire industry,” said Fred Diaz, Nissan’s U.S. senior vice president for sales and marketing. “Consumers in general know that Black Friday isn’t just a good time to buy gifts, but vehicles for their own personal use.”
The Asian companies’ gains came as automakers and dealers boosted promotions as the year winds down, helping increase industrywide November sales 8.9 percent. The annualized sales pace reached 16.4 million vehicles, the fastest since February 2007, according to researcher Autodata Corp.
“Given the strength we saw in the last third of the month, we have no reason to expect a slowdown in the pace in December,” Alec Gutierrez, an analyst at Kelley Blue Book, an automotive pricing and data service in Irvine, California, said in an interview.
Combined U.S. sales for Asia-based automakers totaled 565,941 cars and light trucks last month. U.S.-based General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC led the industrywide increase. GM, the biggest U.S. automaker, had advances for all four of its brands and a total gain of 14 percent.
Toyota’s November results included a 5.6 percent increase for Camry cars and a surge of more than fourfold for Avalon sedans. The Toyota City, Japan-based company was also aided by gains for RAV4 and Highlander crossovers and Lexus IS sport sedans. Combined sales of Toyota, Lexus and Scion vehicles rose to 178,044 from 161,695 a year earlier, the company said.
“This was the best month of the year, so I would say based on experiences in November there’s probably still some positive momentum in the market,” Bill Fay, group vice president for U.S. Toyota sales, said on a conference call yesterday.
Toyota’s Camry sedan is headed for a 12th consecutive year as the best-selling U.S. car, aided by no-interest loans and discount lease offers. Sales of the car have risen 1.3 percent this year through November to 378,520.
The company’s U.S. market share improved 0.2 point to 14.3 percent last month, third behind GM and Ford Motor Co., according to Autodata.
Honda Motor Co. was the only major automaker to post a decline in November, as deliveries shrank 0.1 percent. The average analyst estimate was for a 0.5 percent gain. Combined Honda and Acura sales fell to 116,507 from 115,580 a year earlier, the company said.
Honda was hurt by a drop in sales of the Civic, which leads the small-car segment this year, and a decline for all Acura cars except the RLX sedan. The Tokyo-based company had a tough comparison because November 2012 set a volume record for the month, said Robyn Eagles, a spokeswoman.
“Honda is expected to come up with a facelift for the Civic in the next couple of weeks,” said Koji Endo, a Tokyo-based analyst with Advanced Research Japan. “So people are waiting for the new Civic.”
Nissan’s better-than-expected sales came as deliveries increased for Altima sedans, Sentra small cars, Leaf electric hatchbacks and Frontier pickups, according to the Yokohama, Japan-based company’s statement. The Nissan and Infiniti brands sold 106,528 vehicles last month, up from 96,197 a year earlier.
Honda slid 1.2 percent as of 1:15 p.m. in Tokyo trading, while Nissan fell 1.3 percent and Toyota dropped 1.4 percent. The Nikkei 225 Stock Average declined 1.8 percent.
“Everything that I’m hearing from our dealers tells us that December is going to be a really good month,” Nissan’s Diaz said. “I really don’t see anything right now from a macro perspective that could slow things down.”
Sales of the battery-powered Leaf, after a sluggish start in 2010, have risen steadily after a price cut at the start of this year. Sales through November were 20,081, surpassing combined annual deliveries from 2010 through 2012.
Hyundai Motor Co. and affiliate Kia Motors Corp.’s combined deliveries rose 7.3 percent to 101,416, outpacing analysts’ average estimate of a 1.9 percent drop. The Seoul-based carmakers entered the month having trailed the industrywide sales pace each month since September 2012.
“As consumer confidence appears to be on the mend resulting in record sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the automotive industry as a whole appears to be making strong strides as the year comes to a close,” Dave Zuchowski, Hyundai’s U.S. executive vice president, said in a statement.
Industrywide deliveries may rise to 16.1 million next year, according to the average estimate of analysts in a survey by Bloomberg News in September. While that would be the smallest annual increase since its rebound from a 27-year low for sales in 2009, it would extend the industry’s streak of gains to five years for just the second time since World War II.