Automobile sales in August were up 7.5% from the
previous year and up 1.2% from July, surprising
analysts who had predicted sluggish results.  The increase
came despite a struggling economy, low consumer
confidence and a hurricane.
“Consumers are getting used to making these big-ticket
item purchase decisions in an everlasting,
c h a o t i c ,   u n c e r t a i n   e c o n o m i c
environment,” said Jesse Toprak, VP at, told the New York Times.
“We’re seeing more and more consumers
becoming relatively comfortable in pulling
the trigger when they don’t have all the
Hurricane Irene, which pummeled
the  East Coast from the  Carolinas  to
Vermont, reduced overall demand in the U.S. by 3% for
August, estimates  Paul Taylor, chief economist at the
National Automobile Dealers Association.
August sales came despite a decline in incentives
for the month. Those incentives were off by 6% from the
year earlier to an average $2,615 per vehicle.  General
Motors cut its incentives by 11% and it still saw an 18%
rise in sales during August. "There is still a lot of pent-up
demand," said Don Johnson, GM’s vice president of U.S.
sales operations. "Consumers are being cautious, but they
are not out of the market. We think that will continue the
rest of the year."
Ford’s incentives were down by 9.1% year-over-year
but its sales were up 11%.  That company’s sales were
buoyed by demand for its fuel efficient models.
Chrysler had a fantastic month--sales rose by 30.6%.
It was Ford’s best month since 2007.   The
company cut its incentives by 7% for August, though to a
still high average $3,457.
Toyota was one of the few automakers to increase its
i n c e n t i v e s - - b y   1 9 % - - b u t
inventory problems still ate into
its monthly sales; they fell by
12%.  Toyota is counting on the
new Camry, to be launched next
month, to bring it back to previous
sales levels.
Lack of inventory of some of
its most popular models also
deflated sales for Honda, which
was down 24% for the month.
That company’s incentives were
trimmed by 2.1%.

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