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US sales of GM, Toyota stand out as others falter in August

3 min

Washington (AFP)

General Motors and Toyota saw rising new car sales in August, riding continued strong demand for SUVs and light trucks, while other automakers sagged at summer's end, according to industry figures released Friday.

Fiat Chrysler and Nissan each saw double-digit declines compared to August of last year, while sales of Ford and Honda also fell.

After record 2016 sales and falling fuel prices, automakers have struggled to maintain momentum this year.

Overall US vehicle sales retreated 1.9 percent in August, according to figures from Autodata Corp. Cars sales fell 8.5 percent, offsetting the 2.4 percent gain in light trucks.

Automakers were expected to act aggressively to boost sales in the US Gulf Coast region, as it recovers from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey.

"Toyota simply beat the snot out of its competitors in August with the compact RAV4 sport utility selling a dazzling 43,000 units," Autotrader executive analyst Michelle Krebs said in comments released by Cox Automotive.

"It appears Toyota took those sales from Honda, Ford and Nissan."

GM reported a 7.5 percent increase over the same month of last year. Chevrolet's crossover Traverse model soared 83 percent, and the Equinox gained 67 percent, while the Silverado LD crew cab pickup jumped 21 percent.

The company also boasted of rising sales for its all-electric Chevy Bolt EV hatchback, which GM said had its "strongest sales ever" in the month. Deliveries remained comparatively low, however, at 2,052 cars.

Toyota sold 6.8 percent more vehicles, largely due to a 28 percent jump in SUVs, and a 21 percent rise in trucks. However, the popular Camry sedan also saw year-on-year gains of 12.7 percent.

But amid falling gasoline sales, the Prius hybrid suffered 26.4 percent decline.

- Fiat, Ford sales sag -

Italian-American auto giant Fiat Chrysler reported an 11 percent decline in US sales, led by falling fleet sales, part of what the company called a planned reduction in volume.

However, the company highlighted strong sales of Jeep and Dodge brands, with the Jeep Grand Cherokee having its best August since 2000.

"At Jeep, the growth in Compass, Renegade, and Grand Cherokee came at the expense of the Cherokee, which was down 50 percent year-over-year," said Rebecca Lindland, executive analyst at Kelley Blue Book.

Jeep is down 15 percent so far in 2017, she added.

Ford saw a 15 percent jump in sales of its F-Series pickups, but this was not enough to offset an 11.3 percent slump in SUVs and an 8.6 percent drop in cars.

Overall, Ford saw sales fall 2.1 percent in August.

For Honda, the trends were reversed, with truck sales falling eight percent and car sales rising 4.2 percent, leaving August's overall figure for the Japanese automaker down 2.4 percent.

Nissan sales dropped 13 percent but its cars segment fell faster than its light trucks.

Electric automaker Tesla saw sales for the month fall 7.1 percent.

Overall, European automakers had a ho-hum sales month, collectively declining 1.2 percent.

Volkswagen's sales rose nine percent but the German giant's US market share rose only 0.3 percentage points to 2.2 percent, with 32,015 vehicles sold.

BMW and Mercedes, meanwhile, fell 7.7 percent and 8.2 percent, respectively.

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