- General Motors, Ford and Chrysler on Wednesday reported double-digit sales gains in August, as individual car buyers flocked to dealerships.
- "Automakers are posting higher-than-expected sales for August," said Michelle Krebs, an Edmunds senior analyst. "The news is even more positive than the overall numbers imply."
- The Chevrolet Volt, Ford Fusion and Dodge Journey had their best month ever.
DETROIT — General Motors, Ford and Chrysler on Wednesday reported double-digit sales gains in August, as individual car buyers flocked to dealerships.
"Automakers are posting higher-than-expected sales for August," said Michelle Krebs, an Edmunds senior analyst. "The news is even more positive than the overall numbers imply."
"Individual car buyers are behind the surge as fleet sales are significantly lower than the past, and while Labor Day promotions were loud and aggressive, overall incentives were down from July and up only a bit from a year ago. The stars are aligned for strong retail sales."
New car buyers in August paid one of the lowest new car interest rates in history at 3.9 percent, according to Jessica Caldwell, an Edmunds senior analyst.
"This is truly a purchase driver," Caldwell said. "Even though consumers are generally paying higher prices for cars due to increased content (and, in some cases, tight supply), the low interest rate is generating monthly payments on par or less than what they have paid in the past."
GM said it sold 275,847 vehicles in the U.S. in August, up 15 percent compared with the same month a year earlier.
Standouts included the Chevrolet Volt, which had its best month ever, according to the automaker. GM sold 3,351 Volts in August compared with 2,831 a year ago for an increase of 18.4 percent. GM recently slashed the Volt's price by $5,000. GM said the Chevrolet Spark, Chevrolet Sonic, Cadillac XTS and Buick Verano also logged record sales.
"We have a lot of momentum and we feel good about the direction of the U.S. economy as we prepare to launch even more new products, including all-new heavy-duty pickups and large SUVs for Chevrolet and GMC, a completely redesigned Cadillac CTS and the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray," said Kurt McNeil, vice president of GM's U.S. sales operations, in a statement.
Chrysler said it sold 165,552 vehicles in the U.S. in August, a 12 percent increase compared with sales in August 2012.
"Last month we achieved our strongest retail sales in the past 60 months," said Reid Bigland, Chrysler's U.S. sales chief.
Ram Truck brand sales were up 29 percent, the brand's best August sales since 2007. The Dodge Challenger and Dodge Dart each recorded their best August sales, while the Dodge Journey had its best sales month ever.
Ford sold 221,270 vehicles in August, a 12 percent monthly sales gain. The Ford Fusion had its best-ever August sales with 24,653 vehicles sold. Ford announced it will build 785,000 vehicles in the fourth quarter of 2013, a 7 percent increase from the fourth quarter of 2012.
Toyota reported August sales of 231,537 units, an increase of 23 percent.
"The auto industry continues to be a bright spot in the economic recovery," said Bill Fay, Toyota division group vice president and general manager, in a statement. "August capped a great summer for new vehicle sales and it was Toyota's best month in more than five years."
Nissan U.S. sales totaled 120,498 to set an August record, an increase of 22.3 percent over last year's total of 98,515.
Volkswagen sold 40,342 Volkswagen-branded vehicles in the U.S. in August, a 1.6 percent drop from a year ago. Volkswagen of America sold 41,011 vehicles in August 2012.
Edmunds says: Consumers continue to take advantage of low interest rates and good lease deals as they replace aging cars and give the U.S. economy a major kick in the pants.