GM's U.S. Auto Sales Jump 18% in August

Automaker is 'cautiously optimistic' about the U.S. economy.

General Motors on Thursday reported an 18% jump in its U.S. auto sales in August despite recent market turmoil, and expressed cautious optimism about the state of the U.S. economy.

"Our balanced portfolio of trucks and fuel-efficient vehicles like the Chevrolet Cruze, Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain are helping GM continue to gain market share, which has now increased in seven of the past eight months," Don Johnson, vice president for U.S. sales, said in a news release.

"We're carrying good momentum and we're cautiously optimistic that we'll see U.S. economic growth improve in the months ahead."

Strong retail sales helped GM boost deliveries by 18% to 218,479 vehicles last month, while lower-margin fleet sales also posted gains, the automaker said.

GM said it is "closely monitoring consumer sentiment and other economic indicators" but has not changed its forecast for overall 2011 industry sales, which it expects to be in the "low end" of the 13 million- to 13.5 million-vehicle range.

Overall industry sales declined sharply in the second half of August amid plunging consumer confidence and disruptions caused by Hurricane Irene, according to an early analysis of real-time transactions by J.D. Power and Associates.

"With the economic woes, summer vacations and Hurricane Irene taking center stage, August may be a lost month for vehicle sales, but the slight increase in the retail selling rate from last month is still a step in the right direction," said Jeff Schuster, executive director of global forecasting at J.D. Power.

"Marketing and incentive focus has already shifted to September with the upcoming Labor Day weekend, so with improved inventory, the sales pace could show marked improvement next month."

J.D. Power forecasts that August sales will slip to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 11.9 million vehicles, down from 12.2 million in July.

Final industry sales figures were expected later Thursday.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011

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