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O.C. automakers report solid November sales

Black Friday boosts end-of-month sales for most brands

by Caitlin AdamsPublished: December 04, 2012 03:30 PM

Heading into the final stretch of 2012, Orange County’s automakers have released very strong national sales numbers for the month of November, with four of the five locally based brands reporting increases over the same period in 2011. A high-traffic shopping period following Black Friday seems to have boosted sales for several brands over last year’s more anemic shopper turnout.

Hyundai Motor America, headquartered in Costa Mesa, reported its best-ever November sales, with 58,487 vehicles sold throughout the country during the month. The figure is an 8 percent improvement over the same period last year. The automaker also reported that year-to-date sales are also 8 percent above last year’s mark. Three models contributing to the boost were the Azera, Elantra and Santa Fe.

Dave Zuchowski, Hyundai's executive vice president of sales, said the annual shopping frenzy surrounding Black Friday was a very good stimulant for the month’s sales. "We were also very encouraged by the strong sales recovery experienced in those northeastern regions that were ravaged by Super Storm Sandy and expect continued momentum there for the balance of the year."

Irvine-based Kia Motors America also highlighted its strong November sales, 41,055 vehicles, a 10.9 percent increase over the same period in 2011.  Year-to-date sales for Kia are also up 17.3 percent for the first 11 months of 2012.

Kia also marked a milestone last month with the sale of the 500,000th car sold in 2012, the first time the company has crossed the half-million vehicle threshold in the U.S. Cars that pushed the sales figures higher this month include the Optima and the U.S.-manufactured Sorento, which is built at Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia.

Hyundai and Kia appear to have suffered no shortfall in popularity since news came out that both automakers misreported the fuel economy ratings for several vehicles from the 2011 to 2013 model years. As many as 900,000 cars sold over the past three years were publicized with more favorable gas mileage than they actually get. Whether the downrating in gas mileage for both brands will have a significant impact on customer loyalty or sales remains to be seen.

Mazda North American Operations, headquartered in Irvine, reported that its U.S. sales during November are the best the automaker has seen in 8 years. U.S. November sales amounted to 21,691 vehicles an increase of 17.7 percent over the same month last year. The automaker reports that year-to-date sales are also up 9.1 percent over the same time last year. The Mazda3, Mazda2 and Mazda CX-9 were the strongest-performing models over the month.

Mitsubishi Motors North America reported that while several of its models saw increased sales last month, overall vehicle sales for the brand were down 4.3 percent compared to November 2011. The automaker sold 3,574 vehicles last month. However, Mitsubishi representatives note that last year’s figure was also larger due to models that ended production in 2011, and are since no longer available. The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, Lance and Lancer Evolution all saw improved month-over-month sales.

"We are encouraged at the consistent sales performance of the Outlander Sport, our top seller in the U.S," said MMNA President and CEO Yoichi Yokozawa. The Outlander Sport’s sales rose 34.2 percent over November 2011, amounting to 1,520 units sold during the month. "It bodes well for our next generation 2014 Outlander, which we unveiled to the U.S. media last week."

American Suzuki Motor Corporation, based in Brea, reported a huge jump in sales, with 2,224 cars sold during the month, an increase of 22 percent compared to November 2011.

Suzuki last month announced that it is planning to go through a bankruptcy-backed reorganization, and, when complete, will discontinue new auto sales in the continental U.S. The company will instead use the Chapter 11 reorganization process to reposition its focus on the growth and development of its motorcycle, ATV and marine products divisions. Until that time, Suzuki has extended its zero percent financing for up to 72 months, a service that company representatives said was a factor in driving strong sales during the month.

"American Suzuki Motor Corporation is pleased with our strong monthly vehicle sales for November, and we look forward to working with our valued dealers across the country to ensure that remaining U.S. inventory is sold in the coming months," said M. Freddie Reiss, chief restructuring officer for Suzuki’s American subsidiary.

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