U.S. Auto Sales Reach 4.5 Year High in August
As predicted several weeks ago by J.D. Power based on the first 16 selling days of August, U.S. new car sales did reach a four and-a-half year high last month. Slightly more than 14.5 million units were sold in August (at an annual rate, seasonally adjusted), which was an increase of 20% from a year earlier (exactly as predicted by J.D Power), and the highest sales month since March 2008. By individual auto company, Honda had the largest annual increase of 59.5% in August, followed by Volkswagen at 48.2%, and Toyota at 45.6%. Chrysler led the Big Three with a 14.1% increase, followed by Ford's 12.6% gain and GM's 10.1% increase. On a year-to-date basis, U.S. auto sales are 14.7% above last year.
Auto sales in August marked the third time this year that monthly sales exceeded the artificially high sales during the "cash-for-clunkers" taxpayer-funded stimulus in August 2009, and August sales were the highest since the very early days of the recession. Based on actual new vehicle purchases by consumers, in contrast to how they might respond to national surveys, consumer confidence is at the highest level since early 2008, and there is nothing here in today's report to suggest a serious slowdown or recession.