Trucks, SUVs Pace November 2010 Auto Sales

Trucks, SUVs Pace November 2010 Auto Sales

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Whoever said that people are racing to embrace electric cars, hybrids and other fuel efficient vehicles? Sales of pickup trucks and crossovers, among the least fuel efficient models on the market, rose sharply in November, as consumers continued their gradual return to dealer showrooms.

November Rise

Electric cars such as the Coda Sedan may not be as in big of a demand by consumers as automakers have hoped they would.

Indeed, November 2010 sales were up by 16 percent, the best month of the year. Though a far cry from the sales pace reached as recently as 2007, November’s results suggest that consumers are willing to buy. They just aren’t all that interested in smaller, lighter and more fuel efficient vehicles.

As usual, the runaway best selling vehicle is the Ford F-Series pickup truck. These models account for the lion’s share of Ford sales and profits, and are critical to helping domestic automakers compete. Indeed, General Motors and Chrysler wouldn’t be making much money either without the Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra and Dodge Ram pickup trucks to sell.

Smaller Crossovers

Certain smaller crossovers did sell well including just about everything Subaru makes. The Japanese automaker, who has the crossover niche sewn up, enjoyed a 22 percent increase in sales for the month. The Outback and Forester continued to pace sales for the automaker who managed to keep its sales up all through the recession.

Sales of the largest SUVs and crossovers aren’t as strong as they once were. Popular models include the Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia, a trio of car-based eight passenger models. Unlike traditional body on frame SUVs, these cars are somewhat lighter and are fuel efficient. Still, with combined fuel economy around 20 mpg, larger crossovers aren’t fuel sippers.

Electric Vehicles

Shaking up the market beginning this month will be a pair of electrified vehicles: the Nissan LEAF and Chevrolet Volt. The former runs strictly on electricity and has a range of 73 miles. The Volt has a small electric battery and has an electric range of 35 miles before a gas engine kicks in to extend that range to 379 miles.

But, both cars cost a mint: the Volt retails for $41,000 and the LEAF will cost about $32,500. Both cars can be had for $7,500 less with the help of a federal tax credit. In some states, including cash-strapped California, additional $5,000 rebates can be had. That puts the LEAF in affordable territory, but what you still have is a compact car.

Looking Ahead

The sale of pickup trucks and crossovers for automakers is good for the bottomline. Compact and smaller cars typically have razor thin profit margins,making it difficult for car manufacturers to make a profit off of these kinds of cars. What companies hope consumers will do when they choose a small car is to buy them well equipped and have started to offer such amenities as leather seating and rear view cameras in a bid to entice customers.

Whether people will plunk down $23,000 for a fully optioned Chevrolet Cruze remains to be seen, but at least that option is available and something automakers will continue to offer in the years ahead.

Source: Auto Trends Magazine

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