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U.S. Auto Sales Surge 17%

Carmakers sold 1.50 million cars and light trucks in America last month compared with 1.29 million a year earlier.

Carmakers sold 1.50 million cars and light trucks in America last month compared with 1.29 million a year earlier. August volume was the highest since May 2007.

Last month’s sales equate to an annualized selling rate of 16.09 million vehicles compared with 14.49 million a year earlier and 15.80 million in July. Last month marked the first month since November 2007 that the annual pace topped 16 million units.

In the January-August period, U.S. light vehicle deliveries climbed 10% to 10.65 million units.

Analysts attribute August’s soaring volume to 0% financing and other end-of-model-year incentives and continuing strong demand for big pickup trucks and fuel-efficient cars.

Domestic brands boosted sales 13% to 659,600 vehicles last month. Deliveries jumped 15% to 257,800 units at GM and 12% at both Ford and Chrysler to 220,400 and 161,400 units, respectively.

U.S. sales by Asian automakers surged 21% to 711,000 vehicles in August. Japan’s major car companies posted the largest gains: Toyota (+23% to 231,500 units), Honda (+27% to 166,400) and Nissan (+22% to 120,500). Demand also soared at Subaru (+45% to 41,100 vehicles) and Mazda (+26% to 28,100).

August was the second consecutive month in which group sales at Toyota topped those at Ford, and Honda’s group volume surpassed that of Chrysler. Toyota’s results included a 23% jump to 29,800 vehicles at its Lexus brand, which was the month’s top-selling luxury marque for only the second time since the end of 2010.

South Korean makes continued to underperform the U.S. market last month with increases of 8% to 66,100 units at Hyundai and 4% to 52,000 units at Kia. The companies blame inventory shortages for their subdued advances.

U.S. demand for European marques climbed 13% to 132,500 vehicles in August, despite a 2% slide to 40,300 units by the volume-leading VW brand.

Gainers were led by luxury car brands Mercedes-Benz (+21% to 24,800 vehicles), BMW (+46% to 24,500) and Audi (+22% to 14,000). Also strong were Jaguar (+67% to 1,700 vehicles) and Land Rover (+33% to 4,900). Mercedes now leads BMW by a cumulative 1,400 units in the race for America’s 2013 luxury sales crown.

August sales records were set by the Honda and Nissan groups and the Hyundai, Kia, Porsche and Subaru marques. Fiat and Maserati reached all-time highs for any month.