December 1, 2017 / 3:02 PM / a year ago

Major automakers post mixed November U.S. sales results

DETROIT, Dec 1 (Reuters) - Major automakers posted mixed U.S. November new vehicle sales for November on Friday, with General Motors Co and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCA) down largely on lower fleet sales, while Ford Motor Co’s sales rose.

Automakers are trying to sell down 2017 model year vehicles, offering high discounts to consumers as the year-end nears. Last year the industry hit record annual sales of 17.55 million units and this year analysts expect full-year sales to fall slightly, increasing competition to move vehicles off dealers’ lots.

No. 1 U.S. automaker GM said its sales fell 2.9 percent in November, with sales to consumers flat versus the same month in 2016. Much of the decrease was driven by lower fleet sales to rental agencies, businesses and government agencies.

GM said strong SUV and crossover sales pushed its average transaction price for the month above $37,000 for the first time. The company’s level of unsold cars, which has been a concern for analysts and the industry, rose slightly to 83 days supply from 80 days at the end of October.

Fleet sales are a low-margin business for automakers. FCA in particular has targeted a significant reduction in this type of sale in 2017.

The automaker posted a 4 percent overall decrease in sales for November, but said fleet sales were down 25 percent while sales to consumers were up 2 percent on the year.

No. 2 U.S. automaker Ford reported a 6.7 percent increase in sales in November, with fleet sales up nearly 26 percent and retail sales 1.3 percent higher than in November 2016.

Ford said SUV sales rose 13.3 percent in November, while its pickup truck sales were up 4.1 percent.

In morning trading, GM shares were down 18 cents at $42.91, FCA was off 9 cents at $17.01 and Ford was up 0.8 percent at $12.63. (Reporting by Nick Carey; Editing by Susan Thomas)

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