Counting Cars

August SAAR Soars to Post-Clunker High


U.S. LV sales rose to a post-Cash for Clunkers high of 14.46 million units - the second highest SAAR since April 2008.


August 2012 Light Vehicle Sales Volume:
WardsAuto forecast: 1.27 million units
Actual: 1.28 million
Differential: 0.6%

August 2012 Light Vehicle SAAR:
WardsAuto forecast: 14.37 million
Actual SAAR: 14.46 million

See Related Media sales table for Company by Company results.

It had to happen eventually. If consensus 2012 LV sales forecasts of 14.3 million to 14.5 million were to have a chance of being right, the SAAR had to have a meaningful lift, and soon. The seasonally adjusted annual rate of sales for the first seven months of the year had been just 14.1 million units. Hopefully, August sales are a sign of things to come. U.S. LV sales rose to a post-Cash for Clunkers high of 14.46 million units - the second highest SAAR since April 2008.

The last time the seasonally adjusted annual sales rate was above 14.5 million units was in August 2009, the height of the government's Cash-for-Clunkers new car sales incentive program.

U.S. automakers sold 1,280,360 light vehicles, a 15.3% improvement over year-ago August on a daily basis.

Collectively, Detroit 3 auto companies lifted their daily sales 7.6% over year-ago, with total sales of 581,307 cars and light trucks over 27 selling days (versus 26 selling days last August).

GM lifted its DSR 6%, with LV sales of 249,520 units, while Chrysler reported August LV sales of 147,826 - a 9.8% increase in the company's daily sales rate versus year-ago.

Ford sold 192,937 LVs, lifting its daily rate 7.8% for the month, retaining the No. 2 spot and keeping Toyota at bay - at least one more month.

Toyota, though, continues to outflank its inventory-hampered year-ago sales by huge margins, with daily sales in August rising 40.2% to 188,520.

Honda was up even more, lifting its DSR some 53.6% - but even that result was slightly below expectations, given the company's dearth of product a year ago and its aggressive marketing this month.

Nissan was up just 3.6% over year-ago, but the company had much less inventory disruption last year from the tsunami and earthquake.

Hyundai, which along with Kia and Nissan, benefitted from Honda and Toyota's year-ago inventory issues reports near-flat daily sales on total deliveries of 61,099 units. Kia, however, posted a 17% increase in daily sales, with its best-ever August, selling just over 50,000 units.

Subaru reported a 30.8% jump in DSR.

Volkswagen, meanwhile, continues to push ahead in the U.S., with sales up 56.5% over year ago, on the strength of the Passat as well as the new Beatle, which was not yet in production last year.

Jaguar Land Rover sold 700 of its new Evoque RV and lifted its total DSR 26.6%. Porsche sales were up 33.4% for the month.

BMW, which was embroiled in a small controversy over sales of vehicles to dealers for demo purposes in July, was the only company other than Mazda to report a year-over-year decline in daily sales, as its DSR dropped 9.2%, on total BMW/Mini sales of 22,523 units.

Daimler's sales of Mercedes and Smart brand light vehicles meanwhile were up 8.9% over year-ago's DSR.

August's sales brought the YTD LV tally to 9.68 million units, up 14.7% over like-2011.

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What's Counting Cars?

Blogs and commentary about automotive data, industry trends, and the future of the auto industry.


John Sousanis

John Sousanis oversees WardsAuto data operations as Director of Information Content, and is Ward’sAuto sales analyst. Follow John on Twitter @CountingCars.  

Haig Stoddard

Haig Stoddard is a veteran automotive industry analyst. His current focus is North America production and longterm sales forecasting.
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