Orange County Business Journal

Auto Sales Up in November

Kari Hamanaka Monday, December 3, 2012

Auto sales made a comeback in November following the impact of Hurricane Sandy, with the annualized pace now set to top 15 million vehicles this year.

The last time the industry saw the annualized rate reach 15.5 million was in February 2008.

Total vehicles sales nationally in November were up 15% to 1.14 million, according to Woodcliff Lake, NJ-based Autodata Corp.’s online industry researcher Motor Intelligence.

Brea-based American Suzuki Motor Corp. saw the largest percentage growth for the month of the automakers headquartered here, up 22% from a year earlier to 2,224 vehicles in November.

The automaker, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last month, attributed the month’s increase to a zero percent financing offer for qualified buyers.

American Suzuki said it plans to eventually wind down sales of new vehicles in the U.S. to focus on its Motorcycles/ATV and Marine divisions once it emerges from bankruptcy.

South Korea-based Hyundai Kia Automotive Group’s Hyundai Motor America Inc. and Kia Motors America Inc. both saw record November sales.

Costa Mesa-based Hyundai sold 53,487 vehicles last month, up 8% from a year earlier.

Kia, headquartered in Irvine, sold 41,055 vehicles, up 10.9% from a year earlier. November was Kia’s 27th straight month of record sales.

Hyundai and Kia lowered the fuel economy estimates on most of their 2012 and 2013 model-year vehicles last month. The revised estimates followed results of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency tests showing a discrepancy between the automakers’ stated fuel performance and the agency’s findings.

Irvine-based Mazda North American Operations sold 21,691 vehicles, up 17.7% from a year earlier. It was the automaker’s best November results since 1994.

Mitsubishi Motors North America Inc. of Cypress sold 3,574 vehicles, down 4.3% from a year earlier. Mitsubishi said sales continue to be impacted by the August 2011 end of production of its Eclipse coupe, Eclipse Spyder convertible and Endeavor crossover.

Mitsubishi’s sales for the month, excluding the discontinued models, were up 16% from a year earlier.