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Auto sales in the U.S. soared to levels not seen since the financial crisis and indicate that they will continue to grow as the U.S. economy improves.  Figures released earlier this week indicate that August employment figures improved more than expected and it would appear that many of the newly employed went out and purchased a car.  Some even bought EVs, which scored their highest monthly sales figure in history.

U.S. buyers bought some 1.5 million cars in August, resulting in a 17% increase over sales figures one year ago.  Moreover, the sales were spread across most manufacturers – foreign and domestic - and include increases in light trucks, compact cars and, as already stated, even electric vehicles.  The seasonally adjusted production rate for August pushed beyond 16 million units and some analysts believe that rate will be held throughout the remainder of 2013.

Ford Motor sales for August were led by a 22% increase of its F-series pickup trucks, but Ford’s strength didn’t end there with an increase of 30% for its small, fuel-efficient vehicles.  Overall, Ford sales for the month were up 18% over year-ago figures.

Nissan Motor reported record sales in the U.S. for August with Nissan brand vehicles hitting a 24% increase and Infiniti brand cars rising 7%.

Toyota Motor reported an overall sales increase of 24%, boosted by a 22% increase in Camry sales and a 30% increase in its Prius models, hitting an August record of 27,358 units.

Honda Motor reported a sales increase of 27% along with a 9% increase in Acura sales.  Honda said its sales posted a record for August with its CR-V, Accord and Civic models selling more than 34,000 units each during August.

Chrysler Group continued its now 41-consecutive monthly gain led by its Ram brand of trucks and a somewhat disappointing gain of 8% for Jeep brands.  Dodge brand sales increased 11% with Fiat scoring a record of 4,100 units sold during the month. 

General Motors sales for the month increased 22%, but the company noted that its fleet sales dropped 8% during the period.  Cadillac remains a rising star at G.M. with a sales boost of 38% over August 2012, and a 37% increase at Buick.  Chevrolet sales were 10% higher and GMC sales rose 14%.

Volkswagen sales continue to disappoint and rose only 4% during the month, while competitors like Subaru increased 45%, Mazda sales were up 26%, Mitsubishi was up 24%, and Hyundai (including Kia) had an 8% increase for the month. 

Among foreign luxury car makers, BMW AG increased sales by 46% (including Mini sales) and Mercedes sales increased 16%.  Audi sales for the month were up 22%.

Auto manufacturers may have found their price point for electric vehicles during the month of August.  General Motors, which cut the base price of its Volt models, reported sales of 3,351 units, said to be more than double the average monthly sales it experienced in the first seven months of 2013.  G.M.’s move to cut prices was prompted by Nissan’s earlier move to reduce the price of its Leaf EV and its sales in August increased to 2,420 units, that’s up from a monthly average of 1,671 units.  And Toyota Motor offered zero-percent, five-year financing on its Prius models in August and increased sales by 65% over the previous August to 1,791 units, a monthly record for the Prius. 

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