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story.lead_photo.caption Stormtroopers promoting the Star Wars film franchise stand beside a Nissan Titan concept vehicle Thursday at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

DETROIT -- Black Friday deals and strong consumer confidence pushed auto sales higher in November despite waning demand for post-hurricane replacement vehicles.

U.S. sales of new cars and trucks rose 1 percent to nearly 1.4 million, according to Autodata Corp., a market analysis firm, for an annualized rate of nearly 17.5 million vehicles, outpacing analyst estimates. That's down from last year's 17.7 million pace and slower than the blistering clip of the past two months, but it still marks one of the better months this year.

Some analysts initially predicted that November sales would drop as post-hurricane sales slowed in Texas and Florida. But Black Friday promotions -- which began in early November -- helped lure buyers to dealerships.

"November and December over the last few years have become a very big merchandising window for the industry," Mark LaNeve, Ford's U.S. sales chief, told analysts and reporters during a conference call Friday. Across the industry, spending on incentives increased by $300 to $400 per vehicle last month, he said.

Fiat Chrysler was offering up to $16,000 off its Chrysler 300 sedan, while Hyundai was kicking $3,750 off the price of a Santa Fe SUV. Car-buying site KBB.com said automotive credit applications rose 42 percent on Black Friday compared with other Fridays in November.

Automakers were offering an average of $3,700 to $3,800 in incentives per vehicle in November. As prices creep up, deals are creeping up with them, analysts say. The trend likely will continue in 2018, when U.S. sales are expected to drop and automakers will be keen to hold on to their market share.

November sales were buoyed by strong U.S. consumer confidence, which was at its highest level since November 2000, according to the Conference Board.

"Vehicle sales are much stronger now than in the spring and summer," said Jonathan Smoke, chief economist for Cox Automotive, which owns car-shopping websites including KBB.com. "The boost in sales over the last three months is a reflection of targeted incentive programs working to move confident consumers who are ready to spend."

Subaru brand sales rose 1 percent to 51,721 vehicles. Sales of the recently revamped Impreza sedan more than tripled, offsetting declines for the Outback SUV.

Hyundai Motor Co. sales fell 9 percent to 55,435 vehicles. Sales of its Tucson SUV were up 51 percent but couldn't offset steep declines in car sales. Genesis luxury sales rose slightly.

Toyota Motor Corp. sales fell 3 percent to 191,617 even though the revamped Camry sedan and the RAV4 small SUV posted record November numbers. Increased truck and SUV sales were offset by steep declines in car sales. Luxury Lexus sales were down 7 percent.

Honda Motor Co. sales rose 8 percent to 133,156. Sales of the CR-V SUV jumped 25 percent. Luxury Acura sales were up 10 percent.

General Motors Co.'s sales fell 3 percent to 245,387. Cadillac sales dropped 13 percent, but GMC, Chevrolet and Buick saw smaller declines. Sales of GM's best-seller, the Chevrolet Silverado pickup, rose 3 percent.

"When we close the books on 2017, GM will show very healthy inventory levels, significantly lower daily-rental sales for the third year in row, and the best year in our history for crossover deliveries by far," Kurt McNeil, the company's U.S. vice president of sales, said in a statement.

Fiat Chrysler sales fell 4 percent to 154,919. Chrysler brand sales jumped 14 percent on strong sales of the Pacifica minivan, and Alfa Romeo sales rose. But sales fell for the company's Ram, Jeep, Dodge and Fiat brands.

Volkswagen brand sales were down 1.6 percent to 29,207 as a new Tiguan SUV started rolling out to dealerships.

Ford Motor Co. sales jumped 7 percent to 210,771 on strong demand for trucks and SUVs. Ford sold 72,769 F-Series pickups, marking that vehicle's best November since 2001. Luxury Lincoln sales fell 5.5 percent.

Nissan Motor Co. didn't report its sales because of a computer problem. Based on preliminary data, Autodata estimated Nissan's sales rose 14 percent to 131,138.

Information for this article was contributed by Dee-Ann Durbin of The Associated Press and by Jamie Butters, Keith Naughton and David Welch of Bloomberg News.

Business on 12/02/2017

Print Headline: Season's deals drive up auto sales

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