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August light vehicle sales

by Bill Cawthon on

Ford’s August sales beat last year’s figures by 17 percent. Including Volvo, where sales improved 24 percent, Ford sold 181,826 cars and trucks, including 2,220 of the new Transit Connect minivans. Focus sales set an August record and Fusion sales set an all-time record. More August records were posted by the Ford Edge, Escape and Flex. Ford F-Series pickup sales were up 12 percent in August, its best finish in more than a year.

Daimler AG said its Mercedes-Benz brand posed August sales of 17,112 vehicles were its best of the year even though they came in 7.5 percent behind August 2008. Mercedes, like most premium carmakers, did not see a significant benefit from the Car Allowance Rebate System (Cash for Clunkers) program. Sales of the new E-Class were especially strong, up 74.2 percent compared to August 2008 and sales of the M-Class SUV improved by 6.0 percent. Smart sales are still down compared to last year, August’s shortfall was 33.0 percent, but they were improved over July 2009 and mark the second consecutive month of improved sales.

Volkswagen reported its best sales month since December 2005. Sales were up 11.4 percent over August 2008 as customers took advantage of the CfC program and bought 12,872 Jettas, the highest monthly volume in over three years. The new CC and Tiguan continue to sell well.

GM fared worse than Chrysler, with sales down 20.2 percent mostly due to a large drop in fleet sales. Chevy sales were strong.

Toyota came though with a big month, reclaiming second place for both the month and the first eight months of 2009. The Toyota Camry was the top-selling vehicle for the month, marking the first time in years that a passenger car has outsold the Ford F-series pickup even on a monthly basis. The Camry also surpassed sales of Chevrolet’s Silverado pickup for the first eight months of 2009. Toyota car sales set an all-time monthly record, rising 27.5 percent to 142,529 units, easily eclipsing passenger car sales at General Motors and Ford.

Honda set an August sales record. Sales were up nearly 10 percent as the Accord dropped the Chevy Silverado pickup to fourth place in monthly sales. Sales of the Odyssey weren’t high enough to match those of the Dodge Caravan, which was the best-selling minivan for the month.

Nissan sales were up in August, driving it past Chrysler’s totals and into fifth place for the month. Sales of the Versa and the new Cube were among the bright spots in Nissan’s monthly report.

Subaru posted an all-time sales record in August with sales up 51.5 percent. Every line except the Tribeca showed a double-digit improvement. Mazda and Mitsubishi also reported good months.

Hyundai and Kia both set new all-time monthly sales records. Hyundai sales were up 47 percent and Kia sales jumped 37 percent. Kia is now ahead of its year-to-date sales for 2008 and Hyundai is less than one percent in arrears.

BMW reported its best month of the year. BMW-Brand sales were down 24.5 percent while Mini sales dropped another 6.5 percent.

Audi sales were up 25.8 percent making last month Audi’s second-best August on record.

This story will be updated throughout the day. Please check back for the latest postings

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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