U.S. Auto sales surge to highest in more than 6 years

U.S. Auto sales surge to highest in more than 6 years

Driven by pent-up demand, low interest rates and an increase in leasing, U.S. auto sales reached pre-recession levels in August. (It also helped that Labor Day sales were included.) The way in which sales exceeded expectations caused some analysts to revise their year-end forecasts upward, as high as 16 million. With the anemic job growth and gradual economic recovery, the auto industry is continuing to lead the broader economy.

Every sector showed gains, with the Detroit 3 relying more on pickups and SUVs and the Japanese OEMs more on passenger cars. The top sellers in volume were GM, Toyota, Ford and Honda. But the Japanese saw bigger increases from a year ago, at 27 percent for Honda, 23 percent for Toyota and 22 percent for Nissan. Subaru had its best month ever, with sales up 45 percent from August 2012. Among the European OEMs, BMW jumped 45 percent and Jaguar/ Land Rover 40 percent. The Japanese gained market share, while the Detroit 3 lost share.

The Ford F-series took the top sales spot as usual, but Toyota Camry was number two, taking the spot from the Chevrolet Silverado.

What about days supply? Range Rover was the clear winner, with the redesigned 2014 Range Rover Sport selling out in just three days. The Range Rover SUV has just six days supply. Those under 10 days: Ford Fusion and Fusion Hybrid; Honda CR-V; Mercedes-Benz GL SUV, especially the Bluetec diesel; Jeep Wrangler, and Subaru Forester.

Average transaction prices are up from a year ago and are now above $31,000. TrueCar.com puts the figure at $31,252, which it is says is 3.2 percent above a year ago. Kelley Blue Book says its $31,657, just 0.7 percent over last August. Whether by a little or a lot, the price of cars is higher than a year ago.

Some in the industry are well aware of the big ups and downs the industry has seen in the past and of the uncertain economy. Fords chief economist Ellen Hughes-Cromwick warned, We dont want to get irrationally exuberant at this point.

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