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US auto sales jump 16.5% in August

Keywords: Tags  Auto sales, Toyota Motor, General Motors, Ford Motor, pickup trucks, Bill Fay, Kurt McNeil, Kenneth Czubay Corinna Petry

CHICAGO — U.S. sales by the top seven automakers totaled nearly 1.3 million vehicles in August, up 16.5 percent from 1.12 million in the same month last year and 15.3 percent higher than 1.13 million the previous month, according to an AMM analysis.

Toyota Motor Corp. sold 231,537 vehicles in August, up 22.8 percent from a year earlier, putting it back in the No. 2 spot ahead of Ford Motor Co. for the first time since March 2010.

"The auto industry continues to be a bright spot in the economic recovery," said Bill Fay, Toyota division group vice president and general manager. "August capped a great summer for new vehicle sales, and it was Toyota’s best month in more than five years."

August was the best month for General Motors Co. since September 2008, U.S. sales vice president Kurt McNeil said during a conference call, with sales jumping 14.7 percent from a year earlier to 275,847 vehicles. "We expect the light vehicle SAAR (seasonally adjusted annual rate) to be ... above 16 million vehicles," he said. "Based on everything we see, the economy is on solid footing, which means the industry should remain strong."

GM said it continues to tweak production each month, and expects to mow through its 2013 inventory quickly.

Ford sold 221,270 vehicles last month, up 12.2 percent from August last year. "Ford’s retail strength really shined in August, (making it) our strongest retail sales month dating back to August 2006," said Kenneth Czubay, vice president for U.S. marketing, sales and service.

F-Series pickup truck sales jumped 22.2 percent in the same comparison, the second time this year that monthly sales exceeded 70,000 vehicles. "At August’s pace, we are selling one F-Series pickup every 42 seconds, 24/7," Czubay said during Ford’s conference call.

Ford expects to build 785,000 vehicles during the fourth quarter, up 7 percent from the same period last year. "Fourteen hundred new workers at the Flat Rock (Michigan) assembly plant will go a long way toward relieving (production) constraints on the Fusion during the fourth quarter," Czubay said.

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