August U.S. New-Vehicle Sales Move Ahead with Gusto

AIS04 car shopperAugust was another month of stellar new-vehicle sales in the U.S. auto industry. In early reports, all three Detroit-based automakers celebrated double-digit gains at the end of a month that was capped off by the Labor Day sales weekend. The three major Japanese automakers posted even stronger double-digit increases than their U.S. rivals. Nearly all multi-franchise automakers reported better sales in August this year vs. 2012.

Consumers continued to replace their aging vehicles—averaging 11 years old—at a healthy pace that matches a monthly forecast update from J.D. Power’s Power Information Network® (PIN) and strategic partner LMC Automotive. Easier credit terms, including long-term loans and more reasonable lease deals, helped spur sales.

Total sales (retail and fleet) reached 1.5 million units for a selling-day adjusted increase of 12.7% from August 2012—the highest unit sales volume since May 2007. J.D. Power projected that the seasonally adjusted annual selling rate (SAAR) would surpass 16 million, which it did.

2013 Ford F-150 XLTLarge pickups boosted tallies for the domestic OEMs. Ford Motor Co. said it sold some 70,000+ F-Series trucks in the month—more than 20% higher than a year ago. Chrysler Group LLC’s Ram Truck brand posted the best increase among its stable of brands, while General Motors said sales were strong for its redesigned Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra models. Officials from the Detroit Three said business was up in the construction and energy sectors, which helped prime pickup truck deliveries in August.

Early results from the manufacturers confirm that the second half is continuing to indicate that the auto industry is in revival. The change is unadjusted for the number of selling days. This year there were 28 selling days in August vs. only 27 in the same month of 2012. A few (unadjusted) highlights for major automakers and brands:

• Honda Group may have led August’s year-over-year gains among the multi-franchise automakers with a near 27% increase in sales from August a year ago. Setting a new August sales record, the Japanese automaker recorded monthly bests for the CR-V with sales surpassing 34,600 units. Also, its Accord and Civic models were strong sellers. Acura posted a 9% gain with strong sales for its MDX and RDX premium crossovers.

2013 Toyota Avalon - right• Toyota Group’s sales soared 23% from last year with strong deliveries for Prius and its best-selling car model, the Camry. On a selling-day adjusted basis, sales improved by 18% from last year. Sales stars included the Avalon, which nearly tripled last year’s totals and compact models including the Yaris and RAV4. Lexus saw big gains for the redesigned IS and healthy RX-Series deliveries. For the month, Lexus approached 29,800 unit sales.

• Nissan Group was close behind its Japanese rival automakers with a 22% gain. Nissan brand deliveries were up 24%, while Infiniti sales were up 7% from August 2012. Strong sellers for the Nissan brand included Altima, Sentra, the Rogue and Pathfinder. Infiniti had a better month with a boost from the launch of its new Q50.

• GM reported that total deliveries in the U.S. were up nearly 15% and said unit sales were the highest since September 2008 with strong sales of its redesigned large pickups. Among its brands, Cadillac and Buick sold one-third more vehicles than a year ago, while flagship Chevrolet posted a near 11% rise from August 2012, with especially strong performances from Camaro, Equinox, Sonic, Spark, Suburban, Tahoe and Traverse. The Volt PHEV also sizzled with an 18% increase, and HD truck sales climbed in double digits, too.

• Ford Division total sales rose  13% with Fusion achieving its strongest August sales (24,563 unit sales) and Fiesta and C-Max sales rose by more than 50% from a year ago. The automaker’s Lincoln brand also posted a small increase with MKZ posting a 10% gain. F-Series sales climbed by about one-fifth from a year ago.

All-new 2013 Dodge Dart Chrysler Group said it had its best August performance since 2007. Ram and Dodge posted the strongest increases and six of the group’s models, including Dodge Challenger, Dart and Journey, set sales records for the month.

Hyundai (+8%) and Kia (+4%) brands reported record August sales. Both brands saw single-digit gains. Hyundai’s U.S.-made models—the Santa Fe, Sonata and Elantra—performed well as did Kia’s best-selling Optima and the new 2014 Cadenza.

• Volkswagen Group sales edged up in single digits, mainly due to a 22% increase from Audi and a 10% improvement from the Porsche brand with a boost from Cayenne. The mass-market VW brand posted a small dip in sales from August 2012, but said its TDI or diesel model sales accounted for 43% of Passat deliveries.

• Daimler and BMW Groups both posted strong double-digit gains. Although Lexus was the likely luxury sales leader in August with sales approaching 29,800 units, Mercedes-Benz (+15%) and BMW (+46%) remained in a heated race in terms of sales units—about 1,300 units apart—for premium sales supremacy through the first eight months of 2013.

• Among the independents, Subaru achieved the largest gain—sales were up 45% from August 2012—and Forester had its best sales month. Mazda also reported a strong 26% climb from a year ago and said it had its best August since 2003 with sales of the redesigned Mazda6 rising 156% from last year. Mitsubishi Motors confirmed a 24% improvement in sales from last year as well.



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