August auto sales were the highest since 2007, even beating 2009’s Cash for Clunkers-inflated numbers. Sales for all brands, unadjusted for business days, were up 20 percent from August 2011 and 14.7 percent year over year. Sales were up 11 percent from July.
Small cars were big winners in August. Driven by rising gas prices, the small vehicle segment grew 47.4 percent from August 2011. Japanese automakers continued their resurgence from a year ago with Honda improving 57.9 percent and Toyota up 47.5 percent. Lexus topped the luxury segment with 24,237 vehicles sold and Volkswagen had its best August since 1973 with 41,011 units sold.
“August marked a turning point in the industry’s recovery,” said AIADA Chairman Ray Mungenast. “Consumer confidence is up and shoppers are eager to take advantage of the tremendous available selection to replace older, less fuel efficient vehicles.”
Market Share Remains Steady
International brands sold 703,611 vehicles and held 54.7 percent of the August auto market, exceeding the 656,584 units they sold in July. However, their market share fell slightly from the 56.9 percent share held by international brands in July.
Asian automakers sold 586,227 vehicles, up from 541,239 last month. They occupied a 45.6 percent share of the U.S. market, down from 46.9 percent last month, but an improvement over the 42.6 percent share they held in August 2011 – at the height of production disruptions due to March 2011’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Year-over-year, Asian brands have experienced a dramatic 28.3 percent improvement in sales and are up 19.8 percent for the year-to-date.
European brands occupied 9.1 percent of the U.S. market with sales of 117,384 vehicles. They sold 115,345 units last month, which accounted for 10 percent of the market. In year-over-year comparison, European brands have experienced a 23.4 percent improvement. For the year-to-date, they have experienced a 20.3 percent improvement over the same time last year.
Domestic brands finished the month with a 45.3 percent share of the market, up from 43.1 percent in July.
Half of Top 10 Vehicles are Internationals
Five of the top ten selling vehicles in August were international nameplates, led by the perennial top-selling Toyota Camry, which clocked in behind the Ford F-Series and Chevrolet Silverado. With sales of 26,720 units, sales for the Camry are up 21.6 percent compared to August 2011.
Immediately behind the Camry, the Honda Accord captured fourth place. Sales for the sedan have improved by 89 percent over last August. In seventh place, the newly redesigned Nissan Altima also experienced a successful month, selling 25,889 units and up 12.5 percent over last August. In ninth and tenth place respectively, the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla/Matrix rounded out the top ten.
Each of the top ten selling vehicles experienced an average 37.5 percent year-over-year improvement. The Civic led the pack with a 106 percent improvement.
The small car segment experienced the biggest sales surge in August, with sales up by 47.4 percent over last August; it sold 249,468 units compared to 169,209 units in August 2011. The mid-size car segment also increased its sales figures; it sold 317,556 units, up from 252,886 a year ago, and improved by 25.6 percent.
Americans continue to prefer SUVs and crossovers. The segment was up by 10.9 percent in August and sold 380,066 units.
AutoData Corp. estimated the seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) at 14.52 million units, versus 12.46 million units a year ago.