Global carmakers reported major gains in U.S. sales for the month of August and beat analyst predictions for overall industry performance as consumers gravitated both to small, fuel efficient cars and full size SUVs. Companies reporting August U.S. sales included Chrysler, Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F), General Motors Company (NYSE: GM), Nissan Motor Co. (Tokyo: 7201), Honda Motor Co. (NYSE: HMC), Subaru and Toyota Motor Corporation (NYSE: TM).
2:24 p.m. Honda Motor Co. (NYSE: HMC) reported U.S. sales up 59.5 percent in August as the company came roaring back from last year's natural disasters in Japan and Thailand. Honda sold 131,321 vehicles overall, with the Honda brand increasing sales 57.9 percent and Acura gaining 72.8 percent.
Sales of Honda's leading passenger cars, the Accord and Civic, were up 89 percent and 106 percent respectively, while sales of the Acura RDX and MDX SUVs rose 156.9 percent and 77.5 percent.
Honda Motor Co. (NYSE: HMC) shares fell 15 cents to $31.74 Tuesday.
1:27 p.m. Nissan Motor Co. (Tokyo: 7201) reported U.S. sales rose 7.6 percent in August 2012 compared to the year before. Nissan brand sales rose 5.9 percent, while the Infiniti luxury mark gained 23.6 percent for a total of 98,515 vehicles sold. Total sales for the company are up 13.7 percent for the year to date.
The Altima sedan led the way for the Nissan marque with sales up 12.5 percent following the launch of a heavily redesigned model in July. The Nissan Rogue crossover gained 10.1 percent and the Pathfinder and Frontier trucks both gained double digits. Sales of the Nissan LEAF electric car plummeted 49.7 percent, though. Nissan sold 82,517 Nissan brand vehicles overall in August.
Infiniti's gains were driven by a 20.1 percent increase in sales of the G sedan, with 5,123 units sold, and the brand had its best August sales month in seven years with 11,155 units sold overall.
Nissan Motor Co. (Tokyo: 7201) shares rose 0.96 percent to 736 yen ($9.38) Tuesday.
11:57 a.m. Subaru, the automotive subsidiary of Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. (Tokyo: 7270), reported U.S. sales rose 35 percent in August as the Japanese carmaker continued to recover from last year's natural disasters in Japan and Thailand. Subaru's U.S. sales are up 24.7 percent year to date.
Subaru's flagship Outback and Legacy models increased sales 49 percent and 18 percent respectively, while the redesigned Impreza boosted sales 84.4 percent compared to last year. Subaru credits brand loyalty and a growing base of new customers with the company's robust U.S. sales growth this year.
Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. (Tokyo: 7270) shares were unchanged Tuesday at 617 yen ($7.87).
11:19 a.m. Toyota Motor Corporation (NYSE: TM) reported U.S. sales shot up 45.6 percent in August as the Japanese automaker continues its robust recovery from last year's earthquake and tsunami in Japan and floods in Thailand. Toyota releases its detailed August sales report at 10:30 a.m. (Pacific).
Toyota Motor Corporation (NYSE: TM) shares fell 1.48 percent to $78.44 Tuesday.
11:01 a.m. Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) reported August 2012 U.S. car sales up 13 percent over the year before with 197,249 vehicles sold. Ford reported that consumers gravitated to the Dearborn-based company's fuel efficient vehicles due to rising gas prices in August.
Sales of the Escape small SUV rose 37 percent compared to the year before for the model's best ever August sales month. Likewise, Fusion sedan sales rose 21 percent and Focus sales rose 35 percent. Sales of the Fiesta, though, fell 28.4 percent. Ford's leading F-series pickup truck increased sales 19 percent, the 13th consecutive month of gains for the model. Overall truck sales at Ford rose 6 percent in August, while passenger car sales surged 7 percent.
While Ford brand vehicle sales rose 13.1 percent, the company's luxury marque Lincoln only increased sales 1.7 percent, demonstrating continued competitive difficulties for the company in that segment.
Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) shares rose 3 cents to $9.37 Tuesday.
10:32 a.m. General Motors Company (NYSE: GM) reported August U.S. car sales up 10.1 percent compared to the year before, at 240,520 vehicles sold. While the Chevrolet, Buick and Cadillac brands all reported double-digit sales growth, the core GMC brand only increased sales 3.7 percent. Year-to-date sales for the nation's largest automaker are up 3.7 percent compared to 2011, as the lumbering Detroit-based giant regains momentum after its 2009 bankruptcy.
GM credited heavy domestic TV advertising during the Olympics with a 25 percent increase in sales of Chevrolet passenger cars like the Spark, Sonic, Cruze, Volt and Equinox. Chevrolet has increasingly taken center stage as GM's flagship brand, and the marque's small car and passenger car offerings have proven to be popular with consumers.
General Motors Company (NYSE: GM) shares fell 7 cents to $21.28 Tuesday.
10:13 a.m. Volkswagen AG (Frankfurt: VOW) reported August 2012 sales up 62.5 percent compared to the year before. VW sold 41,011 vehicles in its best August sales month since 1973. Year-to-date sales are likewise up 37.6 percent and are at their highest level since 1973.
The popular Volkswagen Jetta sedan remained the German company's volume leader, while the Passat, the 2012 Motor Trend Car of the Year, followed shortly behind. The two cars made up slightly more than 50 percent of total Volkswagen sales. Sales of the Routan minivan, CC sedan and EOS convertible all fell slightly, while sales of the rest of the company's vehicles surged, with August sales of the Tiguan SUV at their highest level ever at 2,746 units, a 36.9 percent increase.
Volkswagen AG (Frankfurt: VOW) shares fell 3.41 percent to €123.10 ($154.84) Tuesday.
9:54 a.m. Chrysler Group LLC, a subsidiary of Italian company Fiat S.p.A. (Milan: F), reported August 2012 U.S. sales up 14 percent over the year before, its best August sales month in five years and the 29th consecutive month of year-over-year gains for the rejuvenated Detroit carmaker.
Fiat brand sales led the pack, up 34 percent, while Chrysler brand sales were similarly robust, up 25 percent. Ram Truck sales surged 18 percent and Dodge brand sales increased 13 percent, while Jeep sales grew a more modest 5 percent.
Overall, Chrysler Group sold 148,472 vehicles in the U.S. during the month of August. Dodge Brand President and CEO and Head of U.S. Sales Reid Bigland said Chrysler had benefited from "an incredibly resilient U.S. new vehicle sales industry." Chrysler projected an estimated seasonally adjusted annual rate of sales of around 14.6 million.
Fiat S.p.A. (Milan: F) shares fell 0.74 percent to €4.27 ($5.37) Tuesday.
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