Here’s Good News for American Auto Makers

Major car manufacturers released sales data for the month of November and once again Japanese automakers showed the most growth in North America, while American automakers showed the most growth in China, continuing a trend that has been fairly well established over the last three months.Toyota Yaris

Toyota Motors (NYSE:TM) outpaced the industry with a 17.2 percent year-over-year increase in sales volume in November. The company credited car replacement as a result of hurricane Sandy with some of the sales boost, but also pointed to its record-low finance rates as a catalyst.

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The increasing success that Toyota has had in the U.S. has been a thorn in the side of American producers that are seeing their inventories rise to uncomfortable levels. Based on the current rate of sales, General Motors (NYSE:GM) had a five-month supply of Malibu sedans and Camaro sports cars at the end of November. Ford (NYSE:F) had enough Fiesta subcompacts to last four months, while Chrysler could sell Dodge Darts for nearly six months before running out, according to the Wall Street Journal...

GM posted modest November sales gains of about 3 percent, below consensus estimates around 7.5 percent. However, the rate was still the highest since November of 2007. Not to be discouraged by relatively weak performance in North America, GM recorded a 20.4 percent year-over-year increase in sales in China. Year-to-date sales are now up 8.2 percent in the country.

Ford had a more successful November in North America, posting a 12-year high in small car sales and a 6 percent year-over-year total sales increase. The company had even better results in China, where it landed a sales record for the third month in a row. Sales were up 56 percent year-over-year in the country, and 18 percent this year to date.

Ford and GM have both capitalized on an ongoing territory dispute between China and Japan that has had a devastating affect on Japanese car sales in the country. Toyota has posted several months of sales drops over 40 percent, and while tension seems to be easing it could last through the new year.

American car manufacturers seem to be positioning themselves to take advantage of the weak footing that Japanese car makers currently have in China. GM is investing heavily in research and manufacturing centers in the country, suggesting that in the future it may be continued growth in China that supports North American sales, and not the other way around.

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