Chrysler, Ford, GM Post Higher August Sales
By David Phillips
Strong demand for utility vehicles helped Ford Motor Co. report a 13 percent increase in sales last month, with retail volume up 19 percent over August 2011. Sales rose 13 percent at the Ford division and 2 percent at Lincoln.
Ford said deliveries of utility vehicles jumped 28 percent, while car sales climbed 7 percent and truck volume rose 6 percent. The company said it also plans to boost fourth-quarter North American output by 7 percent--or 50,000 vehicles–to 725,000 over 2011.
Volkswagenn AG said U.S. sales at the VW brand surged 63 percent to 41,011, its 24 consecutive monthly gain.
It was Chrysler's 29th consecutive monthly increase in U.S. sales, though the gains have slowed over the last two months from their torrid pace early this year.
The automaker continues to benefit from new or refreshed models, notably a stronger passenger car lineup, as well as generous incentives, fleet shipments and easing credit terms.
Sales of the all-new Dodge Dart compact sedan totaled 3,045 units, the automaker said.
Chrysler's U.S. sales have advanced 26 percent this year, with car volume up 49 percent and truck deliveries rising 18 percent.
"Our Iron Man streak continued last month," Reid Bigland, head of the Dodge brand and U.S. sales operations for Chrysler, said in a statement. "Our hard work over the past few years is starting to pay some dividends in our sales growth, quality awards and profitability. An incredibly resilient U.S. new vehicle sales industry doesn't hurt either."
Other automakers are scheduled to report August sales results later Tuesday.
Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. are expected to set the pace with the industry's biggest gains as they continue to recover from inventory shortages following the March 2011 earthquake in Japan.
Analysts expect U.S. light vehicle sales to post another solid gain in August as the industry continues to defy sluggish economic growth and consumer uncertainty.
Light-vehicle demand is forecast to rise 18 percent last month compared to August 2011, based on a survey of nine analysts by Bloomberg.
The seasonally adjusted annual sales rate for August is expected to accelerate to 14.2 million from 14.1 million in July and 12.5 million a year ago, a Bloomberg poll of analysts found.
GM and Chrysler on Tuesday forecast the August SAAR will reach 14.6 million units.
Pent-up demand, consumer discounts, new models, fleet deliveries, more favorable credit and low financing rates are aiding light vehicle demand.
In some cases, automakers are also offering aggressive incentive programs that reward dealers for selling more cars and light trucks.
TrueCar.com estimates industry incentives averaged $2,457 last month, down 2 percent from July and off 6 percent from August 2011. Chrysler, General Motors and Nissan Motor Co. offered some of the highest deals in August, while Hyundai, Toyota, and Honda were less generous with discounts, TrueCar said.
U.S. light vehicle demand has increased 14 percent to 8.43 million this year through July.
While some analysts say the sales pace could slow in the second half compared to early in the year, the industry remains on track to produce sales of 14 million units or more in 2012.
The SAAR has topped 14 million each month this year except for January and May.
And industry sales have advanced each year since 2009, when sales hit a 27-year low of 10.4 million.
Content provided by Autoweek.
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