) -- The pace of auto sales continued to accelerate in November, likely reaching its fastest rate this year, forecasts indicate.
November light-vehicle sales are expected to total about 973,000 units, up 11.5% from the same month a year earlier, according to TrueCar.com. That would equate to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 13.3 million units, up from 13.2 million in October and the best rate since August 2009, when the "cash for clunkers" program stimulated sales.
Automakers will report November sales on Thursday.
"We've seen six straight months of year-over-year gains for new vehicle sales, which shows positive momentum for the auto industry, " said TrueCar analyst Jesse Toprak, in a prepared statement. "There is a strong possibility that we could reach a 14 million SAAR next month."
Chrysler is expected to lead the industry with 38% sales growth over November 2010, TrueCar said. Growth rates are expected to be 10% for
, 6% for
, 21% for
, 12% for
, 7% for
and 0.4% for
At mid-month, a GM executive provided a forecast slightly ahead of TrueCar's estimate. Speaking at an investor conference, Don Johnson, GM vice president of U.S. sales, said the November SAAR could "get close to" 14 million. Johnson included medium and heavy duty truck sales, which typically adds 200,000 to 300,000 sales to the annual rate.
In recent months, increased fourth-quarter sales have been widely expected as the result of increased inventory at Japanese manufacturers which had been hindered by production declines following the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The average incentive per vehicle totaled $2,534, up 2.5% from October but down 0.5% from the same month a year earlier, TrueCar said.
"Every major automaker increased incentives this month compared to last month as they are looking to push auto sales and finish the year strong," said TrueCar analyst Kristen Andersson.
-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.
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