Strong sales in North America, as well as modest growth in the Asia-Pacific region, hoisted global vehicle sales 3.4% in August to 6.62 million units.

North American deliveries surged 15.0% in August to 1.78 million units, the largest monthly volume for the region since May 2008. Inclusion of Labor Day weekend sales in the U.S. helped boost the total. 

U.S. deliveries climbed 16.5% to 1.5 million units in the month, accounting for 85.8% of the region’s total. Canada rose 6.3% to 162,045, and Mexico grew 5.6%, the smallest year-on-year increase in five months.

North America posted a 26.9% share of the global market in August. This was the largest share for the region since August 2009 when the “Cash for Clunkers” program was in full swing.

The Asia-Pacific’s share of the world market climbed as well, up 0.7 points from August 2012 to 42.6%. Deliveries totaled 2.8 million units in the month, up 5.1% from year-ago.

China, the region’s largest market, continued to grow in August, up 10.0% from like-2012, marking the sixth straight month of year-over-year increases.

Japan and India fell short of year-ago levels, however, down 1.1% and 3.0%, respectively.

European sales suffered in August, dropping 6.3% after July’s encouraging 2.3% uptick. This is the largest decline for the region since March.

Russia, down 10.7%; Germany, off 5.8%; and France, down 9.6% were among the countries to tumble in the month. Increased joblessness, coupled with one less selling day in the month vs. 2012 contributed to the mass decline.

There were a few bright spots however, with the U.K., up 11.6%; Turkey, gaining 7.6%; and some other, smaller markets posting increases for the month.

South American deliveries also plummeted in August, down 14.5% to 524,000 units. Increased sales in Argentina (20.8%), Chile (1.2%) and Uruguay (8.8%) were not enough to lift the region into positive territory.

Deliveries in Venezuela fell 24.8% from year-ago, while Brazil dropped 21.8%, the largest year-on-year decline since November 2008. A large decrease in economic growth, as well as weakened consumer confidence due to ongoing social unrest, severely dampened demand in South America’s largest market.

Through the first eight months, 56.4 million vehicles were sold worldwide, up 3.3% from like-2012.   

hrowe@wardsauto.com