August car sales accelerate

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. — Chrysler Group, Ford and General Motors said Tuesday that U.S. sales in August rose more than analysts estimated as new models such as the Dodge Dart and Ford Escape bolster the market's best year since 2007.

Chrysler deliveries last month increased 14 percent from a year earlier, the company said. Ford's sales rose 13 percent and GM's climbed 10 percent. The automakers topped 10 analysts' average estimates of 9.9 percent for Chrysler, 8.5 percent for Ford and 3 percent for GM. Honda and Toyota deliveries surged 60 percent and 46 percent to also beat estimates.

The stronger-than-expected results from the five biggest sellers of cars and light trucks in the United States reflect continuing strength in the one sector of the economy that has held up as the recovery stumbles. The industry's rebound has spurred hiring at automobile assembly plants and helped lower Michigan's unemployment rate closer to the national average.

"This is an affirmation that the automotive market is strong," said Alan Baum, principal of auto-industry forecaster Baum & Associates in West Bloomfield, Mich.

Nissan said sales rose 7.6 percent, missing analysts' average estimate for a 12 percent increase.

Chrysler, the automaker controlled by Fiat, said deliveries of the Dart almost quadrupled from a month earlier to 3,045, helping extend its streak of U.S. sales gains to 29 months. Chief executive Sergio Marchionne is counting on a steady climb in demand for the Dart, introduced in June, as Chrysler continues to update its lineup.

"We expect Chrysler to continue to gobble up incremental share in the compact-car segment," said Alec Gutierrez, an analyst at auto market researcher Kelley Blue Book.

Ford, which just introduced a new Escape small sport utility vehicle, said sales of the model rose 37 percent to 28,188. Deliveries of F-series pickups climbed 19 percent to 58,201.

U.S. auto sales are on pace to exceed 14 million, for the industry's best total since 2007 and gain by at least 10 percent for the third straight year. That's the first such streak since 1973.

Major automakers' percentage U.S. sales change in August, compared with August 2011:

Volkswagen

m63%

Honda

m60%

Toyota

m46%

Chrysler

m14%

Ford

m13%

General Motors

m10%

Nissan

m7.6%

August car sales accelerate 09/04/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 4, 2012 9:18pm]

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