World and Nation

Automakers report strong November sales

DETROIT — Automakers said Monday that new vehicle sales in the United States rose 15 percent in November, as the replacement of cars and trucks damaged in Hurricane Sandy contributed to the industry’s best monthly sales rate since 2008.

The strong performance of most car companies indicated that total sales for this year will exceed most forecasts, and suggested the industry’s revival will continue into 2013.

Preliminary figures showed that 1.14 million vehicles were sold in November, compared with 994,000 in the same month a year ago, according to the research firm Autodata.

That pace translates into a seasonally adjusted, annual sales rate of about 15.5 million vehicles — the highest rate recorded since January 2008.

“November was a very good month, but December has the potential to be even better,” said Jesse Toprak, chief analyst for the auto information website

Analysts said 20,000 to 30,000 sales during the month were tied to consumers’ replacing vehicles that were flooded or destroyed in the hurricane that devastated portions of the East Coast in late October.

Estimates of damaged vehicles have run as high as 200,000, but Toprak said only about one-fourth of those cars would be replaced with new ones.

“The replacement value will in most cases only be enough to replace a used car with another used car,” he said.

The main reasons for the healthy sales in November are the same that have driven the overall industry this year — the need to replace aging cars on the road and a steady supply of fresh, new models with superior fuel economy.

General Motors, the nation’s largest automaker, had one of the weaker performances among the major car companies. GM said its November sales increased just 3.4 percent, mostly because its truck sales dropped nearly 4 percent.

GM plans to replace its current pickup trucks next year with new versions, but is losing ground to competitors in the segment in the interim.

The company also did not benefit much from hurricane-related sales because its market share is lower than Japanese rivals in some of the affected areas.

Ford Motor Co. reported that its sales during the month were up 6.4 percent, primarily because of the popularity of its small Focus sedan and C-Max hybrid models.

Ford, in fact, trailed GM by less than 10,000 in sales during November, with GM selling 186,000 vehicles compared with Ford’s 177,000.

Chrysler, the smallest of Detroit’s three carmakers, continued its stellar results this year with a 14.4-percent increase in the month.