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Revived Housing Market Pushing Pickup Sales

Ford and Ram pickup-truck sales are booming. At General Motors? Not so much: They’re down 10% last month. There’s a reason for that, and it could change soon.

CBS MarketWatch reported that Detroit’s Big Three reported November car sales Monday (Dec. 3), and the combined results were surprisingly strong. Despite ominous talk of the fiscal cliff, consumer confidence is on the rise. If Congress and the White House can hammer out a budget deal, that confidence will get even stronger.

A key reason Americans are more sure of themselves financially is the housing market, which continues a slow but steady recovery from its near-death experience four years ago. Home prices are rising, there are fewer foreclosed properties out there and new homes are once again being built.

All this points too better demand for pickup trucks, made even better by all the rebuilding needed after superstorm Sandy.

Ford Motor Co. reported sales of its F-series pickups jumped nearly 18% to 56,299 last month, their best November since 2005 and a huge driver in Ford’s 6% sales increase.

Chrysler Group LLC’s Ram trucks continue to shred market share, up 23% to 25,074 vehicles from a year ago, for its best November since 2007.

Then there’s General Motors Co., the odd one out. Sales of GM’s full-size pickups fell 8% last month. Sales of its top brand Silverado were down 10% at 30,674 units, pumping up inventory to what the company estimates is a 139-day supply.

GM claims it has offered far fewer incentives last month than the other guys. That cost the company sales.

But GM has what it hopes is an ace up its sleeve. It’s set to unveil an extensively redesigned Chevy Silverado later this month, and push it out to dealerships early next year. After seven years without an overhaul, this is long overdue.

The new model can be counted on to pull in GM loyalists. If it gets good reviews, the truck might also reclaim market share lost to the newer Ford F-150 and Ram 1500 models.

So with construction on the upswing and a new Silverado model on the way and clearance sales around the corner, it’s hard not to imagine GM’s pickup-truck sales picking up some badly needed momentum over the next few months.

Of course, all bets are off if a budget impasse in Washington slams the brakes on the housing market.


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