SOUTHFIELD, Mich. – The pace of the comeback in U.S. auto sales exceeded already rosy estimates in August, with a total surpassing any month in more than six years and a sales rate that was the fastest since 2007.
The superlatives rolled out throughout the day: General Motors had its best month since 2008 and Ford its best month of retail sales since 2006. Toyota deliveries surged 23 percent, while Honda and Nissan each had their best August ever. Chrysler sales rose for the 41st straight month.
U.S. car and light truck sales rose 17 percent to 1.5 million units, the most since May 2007, according to researcher Autodata Corp.
In 2007, we were achieving that sales level by giving cars away because the auto companies had too many factories, John Casesa, senior managing director at Guggenheim Partners, said Wednesday. Today, theres real demand for that product. Its a fundamentally different industry.
GM, Ford and Chrysler have closed unneeded factories and rolled out better cars that are drawing demand from both retail and fleet buyers, lifting the average prices paid for new vehicles to record highs.
That means todays industry is much healthier than when automakers were last selling this many cars and trucks.
GM deliveries rose 15 percent, topping estimates for an 11 percent rise. Toyota sales increased 23 percent, compared with estimates for 15 percent. Ford deliveries gained 12 percent to beat the 10 percent average estimate. Honda deliveries soared 27 percent, exceeding analysts projected 20 percent increase.
Deliveries of GMs Chevrolet Silverado rose 14 percent to 43,603 and GMC Sierra gained 24 percent to 18,017. The Detroit-based automaker introduced revamped versions of the full-size trucks this year.
Toyota outsold Ford and Honda exceeded Chrysler deliveries for the second consecutive month. Before July, Toyota last topped Ford in March 2010 and Honda last beat Chrysler in April 2011.
Sales of Toyotas Camry sedan rose 22 percent to 44,713, and its Prius hybrid line gained 30 percent to 27,358.
Deliveries of Hondas Civic compact surged 58 percent to 39,458 and its CR-V utility vehicle climbed 45 percent to 34,654.
Nissan also recorded its best-ever August, driven by 20 percent increase in Altima deliveries and 37 percent gain for the Rogue SUV.
For consumers with stable employment and income, its a great time to be out there buying automobiles, said Jonathan Browning, the CEO of Volkswagens U.S. unit. There are good vehicles in the marketplace and great offers.