A customer look over a Ford Escape sports utility vehicle at a dealership… (Bloomberg )
Consumers bought cars at a steady pace in August as the automobile industry continued to help anchor the U.S. economy.
“August continues this summer’s trend of healthy growth,” said John Humphrey, senior vice president of global automotive operations at J.D. Power and Associates.
Although discounts and incentives were common as dealers worked to sell off inventory to make room for 2013 models, the deals have not been as crazy as in prior years, analysts said. Automakers have been disciplined about not making more cars than the market can absorb and that will help the financial performance for many brands, Humphrey said.
August sales ran at an annual pace of about 14.5 million vehicles, automakers and analysts said.
General Motors Co. said its U.S. sales rose 10% to 240,520 in August compared with the same month a year earlier.
Ford Motor Co. reported that sales increased 13% to 197,249 vehicles as shoppers gravitated to smaller cars.
“As fuel prices rose again during August, we saw growing numbers of people gravitate toward our fuel-efficient vehicles — cars, utilities and trucks,” said Ken Czubay, Ford’s U.S. sales chief.
Chrysler Group said its sales rose 14% to 148,472 vehicles compared with the same month a year earlier. It was the automaker’s best August sales since 2007. Chrysler’s gain was driven in part by sales of its new Dodge Dart compact sedan. Ram truck sales also were strong.
"Consumers' preferences concentrated on the two extreme ends of the segments in August: Small cars and large trucks both enjoyed market share gains," said Jesse Toprak, an analyst at car price information company TrueCar.com.
Volkswagen of America said sales of its VW brand rose 63% to 41,011 vehicles, its best August since 1973.
“What you are seeing is a steady solid recovery in the auto industry without a big spike up or down and we are starting to see a little of that starting in the housing market,” said Frank Trivieri, Volkswagen’s vice president of sales.
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