U.S. auto industry sees November sales growth

Auto sales rose in November, and are expected to continue growing to post a record year.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said that sales for the month will reach a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 18.4 million vehicles, Reuters reported.

Experts polled by the source estimated November auto sales at an annualized 18.1 million vehicles, while additional analyst forecasts predicted sales to be between 17.5 million and 18.6 million vehicles.

The rise continues an upward trend in auto sales over the year. Analysts predict that 2015 will be a record sales year, surpassing the 17.35 million cars sold in 2000.

Growth factors
Reuters reported that the head of U.S. sales for Fiat Chrysler, Reid Bigland, attributed the growth to low interest rates, higher employment and lower gas prices.

Incentive programs and holiday promotions such as 0 percent financing also boosted sales in the industry, according to CNBC.

"Incentives were strong for the Black Friday weekend but I think it was more of the messaging than substance. Still, it looks like consumers took the deals," said LMC Automotive forecaster Jeff Schuster.

SUV sales surge 
Auto companies saw growth primarily from sales of their sport utility vehicles, according to the source. Sales at General Motors increased 1.5 percent, with gains for SUVs. Fiat Chrysler recorded a 3 percent growth in sales for the month, largely driven by a 20 percent spike in sales of its SUV brand, Jeep.

The gains during the month at Fiat Chrysler mark 68 consecutive months of growth and its most profitable November in 15 years.

Reuters reported that the Jeep brand had some of the most generous incentives in the industry in November, increasing the value of promotions by 44 percent.

Sales of crossover SUVs, which GM said have grown from 37 percent last year to make up 40 percent of the auto industry, also grew. GM saw an 11 percent growth in sales of its Buick brand and 12 percent growth for its GMC brand, Forbes reported.

Nissan Motors saw a 50 percent jump in sales of its crossover SUV, Rogue, selling more of the crossover than the Altima sedan in November, according to CNBC.

"The phenomenal growth of crossovers in a record-setting market is the biggest sales story of 2015," said U.S. Vice President of Sales and Operations at General Motors Kurt McNeil in an interview with Forbes.

Boost for pickups 
Pickup sales were also up for some companies, according to CNBC. Fiat Chrysler saw 2 percent growth in sales for its Ram model, and sales of the Ford Motor Co F-Series pickups grew 10 percent, contributing to a 0.4 percent total rise in sales for the company for November.

The gains came as Ford announced plans to invest $1.3 billion and add 2,000 jobs at its Kentucky Truck Plant to build a new Super Duty truck that features an aluminum body instead of steel.

Toyota Motor also saw sales gains in November, posting a 12.4 percent increase and beating analysts' prediction of 4.9 percent growth.

Additional end-of-year incentives are expected to add a final boost to auto sales for the year.