August US Auto Sales Generally Strong but GM Sales Dip

Copyright Bill Pugliano

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August US Auto Sales Generally Strong but GM Sales Dip

The strongest gains came at Chrysler, which notched a 20% increase in sales. 

NEW YORK -- Large automakers Wednesday reported generally higher US sales in August on strong demand for trucks and sport utility vehicles, although market leader General Motors (IW 500/5) suffered a modest decline.

Total light vehicle sales in August were 1.59 million, up 5.5% from the year-ago period, according to industry specialist AutoData.

The strongest gains came at Chrysler, which notched a 20% increase in sales to 198,379 compared with August 2013 due to especially large increases at Jeep (+49%) and Ram Truck, with some Ram vehicles gaining 33%.

But GM, the biggest U.S. automaker, saw sales decline by 1.2% from August 2013 to 272,423. Deliveries of Buicks and Cadillacs fell by 10.2% and 17.8%, respectively.

GM also gave a bullish outlook about the upcoming months. "We see a strong fall selling season ahead for GM and the industry," said Kurt McNeil, GM U.S. vice president for sales. "Car-buying fundamentals like employment and energy prices are in good shape, consumer confidence has reached a post-recession high and business investment is increasing."

Ford (IW 500/6) scored a 0.4% rise in sales to 222,174 vehicles due to strong sales of its Ford Explorer SUV and the Fusion sedan.

Toyota (IW 1000/8) reported 2014 sales of 246,100 units, a 6.2% rise from last year. The Japanese automaker cited strong sales of SUVs.

Honda (IW 1000/29) sales gained 0.4% to 167,038, while Nissan sales jumped 11.5% to 134,388.

Autodata said Wednesday's results implied an annual sales rate of 17.53 million units, well above forecasts.

Edmunds analyst Jessica Caldwell said the latest round of sales were boosted by generous financing terms and the lowest August gasoline prices in four years.

"Stable gas prices go a long way toward making trucks and SUVs more attractive to shoppers," Caldwell said. "And if history is any indication, shoppers can expect gas prices to fall even more through the end of the year."

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2014

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