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August U.S. Auto Sales Strengthened by Easier Credit and Labor Day Deals

By: Jeff Youngs, 9/4/2013
August turned out to be another strong month for U.S. automakers with sales climbing as much as 17% (unadjusted) from a year ago--or up 12% when adjusted for one more selling day this year than in August 2012.

Consumers continued to replace older vehicles and many took advantage of access to available credit, such as longer-term loans and reasonable lease deals, according to J.D. Power analysis and news reports. The numbers for August also were elevated because the month included special deals during the Labor Day sales weekend.

In early reports, the biggest increase in August was reported by Subaru, which had its best August total in the U.S. market with sales surging 45% and Forester deliveries setting a record.

The next largest sales gains in August were for the Japanese majors--Honda, Nissan, and Toyota Groups--which sold between 22% and 27% more new vehicles in August than in the same month a year ago. Toyota Group also outsold Ford Motor Co. in August.

The three Detroit-based automakers--Ford, Chrysler, and GM--also reaped smaller double-digit gains from a year ago, gaining between 11% and 15% with a boost in demand for their large pickup trucks due to an improvement in home and commercial construction and the energy sector. It wasn't only trucks that were strong performers for the Detroit Three. Some of their smaller models also were popular. The Chevrolet Sonic and Spark posted strong numbers, as did Ford's Fiesta and C-Max models.

A few more sales highlights from August, according to early reports:
  • Ford's best-selling F-Series large pickup tallied sales of more than 71,000 units in August.
  • Toyota's Camry remained the best-selling car in August with more than 45,000 unit sales.
  • Honda Group set an August sales record and reported the best advance among automakers with multiple brands. Sales were up nearly 27% with stellar numbers for the Accord, Civic and CR-V.
  • Nissan had a range of compact and midsize models that achieved strong results in August--including the Sentra, Rogue, Altima, and Pathfinder.
  • GM's Cadillac and Buick brands reported increases with boosts from the new ATS and the Encore.
  • Ford Fusion set a record for the Ford brand, which was the top-selling brand in the U.S. market.
  • Chrysler Group's Ram Truck brand posted the biggest sales gain among the automaker's brands (+29%) and was followed by Dodge (+12%) with star models such as the Charger and Dart.
  • Hybrids and electric vehicles, including plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), posted newsworthy gains in August from a year ago. Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf sales were up in double digits from a year ago and sales of Toyota's family of Prius vehicles climbed by nearly one-third from a year ago.
  • Crossovers remained strong sellers at the segment level; Honda CR-V posted a record with August deliveries topping 34,600 units and Toyota's redesigned RAV4 recorded a 50% increase with 23,500 unit sales.
  • Sedans also were popular with consumers in August. The redesigned Toyota Avalon posted a triple-digit gain and so did Mazda's redesigned Mazda 6.
  • Lexus was the likely luxury sales leader in August with sales approaching 29,800 units, while Mercedes-Benz and BMW remained in a near tie--about 1,300 units apart--for premium sales supremacy through the first eight months of 2013.
  • Hyundai and Kia brands each set an August sales record with strong sales for Hyundai Santa Fe and the Kia Optima, among others.
  • VW Group's Audi and Porsche luxury brands posted strong gains that offset a small setback in VW brand sales. TDI or diesel sales were strong last month. VW said nearly 44% of Passats sold in August were equipped with diesel powertrains.

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