August Auto Sales: Glass Half Full or Half Empty?

Article excerpt

August auto sales in the US were up 7.5 percent from a year ago, but month-to-month, they've been stagnant through the summer. A second straight year of growth is in the balance.

Despite volatility on Wall Street and predictions it would impact the automotive industry, US auto sales in August were up 7.5 percent from the same month one year ago.

Analysts and industry executives both agree that the uptick in sales is the result of consumers needing to buy after holding onto their old cars for longer than expected, plus the rollout of new, more fuel-efficient models that offer a desirable alternative in the face of the recent hike in gas prices.

But while the August numbers marked an improvement over 2010, they continued a summer of flat sales. For the industry to post a second consecutive year of growth after four of decline, it might have to lure more consumers with incentives this fall, some experts say.

Overall, unit sales for cars and light trucks in August reached 1.1 million, according to Autodata, up from 997,467 unit sales in August 2010. Among the domestic automakers:

Chrysler made the greatest gain, up 27.5 percent to 127,013 units sold. The company credits sales of its Jeep brand, which was up 58 percent in August. The company also spent heavily on incentives, such as a 90-day, zero-payment promotion for certain Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, and Ram models.

Ford Motor Co. sales increased 11 percent

GM sales increased 18 percent.

Overall, domestic sales increased nearly 18 percent from a year ago. …