This summer has been a good one for U.S. auto sales, and it peaked in August. After flirting with the 16-million-unit level in June, and receding a bit in July, the industry vaulted over that marker in August, as the annualized sales rate reached 16.1 million units. Not only was this August's pace the most torrid of 2013, it's the best since 2007. Compared to last August, automakers were up an average of 17%, when the sales rate was 14.5 million units. Once again, pickup trucks were hot (bolstered by a fast-improving housing sector), and they were joined by sizzling sales of luxury cars. A rich model mix and lower incentives made for transaction prices that were at an all-time high -- extra-good news for the industry, if not for consumers.
AUGUST 2013 SALES RESULTS, AND PERCENT CHANGE VERSUS AUGUST 2012.
GENERAL MOTORS +15%
GM's sales increase was very good, though not quite as good as the industry overall. The company claims, however, that retail sales, actually were up 22%, reflecting a declining importance of fleet sales at GM, as elsewhere.
The Encore has given Buick a big boost, with the other models chipping in as well. The Regal (-30%), though, continues to be a trouble spot.
Cadillac had its best retail sales month in decades -- since 1989, to be exact -- and that's with the new CTS still yet to come. The Escalade, however, mostly sat out the party.
The Silverado again topped 40,000 units, but it got knocked down a peg, from the number two to the number three spot overall, by the surging Toyota Camry. Chevrolet's small cars recorded big sales, with the Spark (+72%), Sonic (+31%), and Volt (+18%) having their best month ever. The Cruze, however, was off slightly (-8%), as was the new Impala (-22%), and the Corvette (-46%), the latter dealing with a backlog of 2013 models as dealers await the new C7.
The Sierra (+24%) was part of the big-pickup surge, but it was GMC's biggest SUV, the Yukon XL, that enjoyed the biggest percent jump (+74%).
TOYOTA MOTOR SALES +23%
Toyota stayed ahead of Ford Motor Company, by a more comfortable margin this month, to remain in second place overall. Despite newer competitors, the Camry had a mega month, and Lexus finally has awakened from its doldrums. The same cannot be said of Scion, however.
The Camry (+22%) soared past the 40,000-unit mark and into second place among all nameplates. The Prius family (+30%) finally overtook the Corolla/Matrix (+11%), as the two took the #9 and #10 spots on the bestsellers list. The new Avalon was able to triple the previous year's volume over an August '12, when the old model was being sold down, and the new RAV4 was up by half. Even the hapless Yaris doubled; that left the Venza, the FJ Cruiser, and the Land Cruiser as the only Toyota models in the negative column.
The new IS (+87%) continues to ramp up, while the ES (+1%) has leveled off. Just as important for Lexus, however, was the not so new the RX (+32%). Almost unnoticed is that the big LX is slipping toward obscurity (only 335 sold).
Flat is the new up for Scion, with the tC coupe and xD hatchback overcoming weakness in the iQ and the xB.
FORD MOTOR COMPANY +12%
Ford lagged the industry slightly, and paid the price by losing its #2 spot to Toyota. Ford claimed to be capacity constrained with some models, such as the Escape, and is also readying its Flat Rock, Michigan plant to build more Fusions.
Beyond the F-series (+22%), Ford's other big gainers were the Fiesta (+62%), the Fusion (+14%), and the Explorer (+13%). On the down side we find the Escape, which may have lost some sales to the surging RAV4 and Honda CR-V; and the big vans, which could be losing out to newer competitors from Nissan and Mercedes -- or to Ford's own Transit Connect.
The cars, both the MKS and MKZ, were up while the crossovers (MKT and MKX) were down at Lincoln. The division also sold a handful more Navigators.