With the numbers rolling in from major automakers today, it's difficult to not see progress in August 2011's car sales figures versus those posted in July--but still, the overall trend is slow, slow, slow.
According to market analysts at J.D. Power, the seasonally adjusted seling rate (SAAR) for August 2011 totaled 9.9 million retail units, a slight improvement over figures for July, but well off the 11-million-unit rate seen in February.
When fleet sales are factored in, the 12.1-million-unit SAAR actually fell a fraction of a percent versus July.
Economic frustration continues to keep car shoppers away from dealerships, Power's director of global forecasting Jeff Schuster says. “There is little question that a strong level of pent-up demand exists, but economic and financial uncertainty is keeping it from being released.”
For the year, Power expects a total of 10.2 million retail vehicle sales, and 12.6 million units including fleet sales.
Which brands posted increases on the month, and which have more warning signs to read as economic recovery fails to gain steam? The results by automaker, with some still to come:
General Motors: GM (NYSE: GM) posted August sales of 218,479 vehicles, for an 18-percent boost. Chevrolet's winners included the Cruze and Equinox, while GMC's Terrain was up 88 percent. Buick had its 23rd consecutive sales increase, year over year, and the Regal posted sales double those of last August.
Ford: Ford (NYSE: F) sales of 175,220 were an increase of 11 percent over August 2010. Ford-brand sales rose 16 percent, while Lincoln pulled out of last month's swoon for a 25-percent increase. The Explorer continued its sales rehabilitation, with numbers up 300 percent from August 2010.
Chrysler: Chrysler sales of 130,119 units translated into a 31-percent increase over last year. Jeep sales were up 58 percent; Fiat had its best sales month yet. Big movers included the Jeep Wrangler and Grand Cherokee, and the Dodge Durango.
Toyota / Lexus: Toyota sales fell 16.1 percent, on total volume of 129,483 vehicles. The Toyota division was down 16.9 percent, while Lexus sales dropped 10.6 percent.
Honda / Acura: Honda says its August 2011 sales results still were affected by the March earthquake in Japan. The company sold 73,267 Honda-brand cars, off 21.2 percent from a year ago, and Acura's sales of 9,054 units were a drop of 24.5 percent. Total sales of 82,321 vehicles represented a decrease of 27.2 percent.
Nissan / Infiniti: Nissan said its August 2011 sales totaled 91,541 units, for a 19.2-percent increase. Infiniti's numbers actually were down 4.3 percent, but Nissan-branded cars sold 22.4 percent better than in August 2010. The Leaf electric car topped 1,362 sales, and the Rogue had its best month ever, while the mid-size Altima lineup saw sales rise almost 25 percent over a year ago.
Hyundai: Hyundai CEO John Krafcik says, via Twitter: "August sales? Up 9% over last year to 58,505."
Kia: Kia had its best August ever, with total sales of 41,188 vehicles, for a 26.9-percent increase.
Volkswagen: VW continued its sales streak with a 10.4-percent climb; it's up almost 21 percent on the year. Jetta sales rose 55.5 percent, while the Touareg climbed 140 percent. Diesels continue to account for about a quarter of all Volkswagen sales in the U.S.
BMW / MINI: BMW says combined sales of BMW and MINI vehicles in August fell a slight 0.2 percent to 23,924 units. Sales of BMW-brand vehicles were up 6.5 percent to 20,815 units; MINI was down 29.7 percent to 3,109 units. For the year, the combined business is up 14.6 percent.
Mercedes-Benz: Mercedes-Benz sold 20,728 vehicles in August, an increase of 5.4 percent from a year ago. On the year, Benz is up 10.5 percent.
Subaru: Subaru's long streak of sales wins was interrupted again by a 6.3-percent drop in August, with total vehicle sales of 20,837 units. The automaker is affected by some supply problems due to the March earthquake in Japan. On the year, the brand is up 1.4 percent.
Mazda: Mazda says it sold 22,632 vehicles in August 2011, an increase of 14.7 percent over a year ago. On the year, the Japanese automaker is up 6.1 percent.
Audi: Audi reported sales of 10,201 vehicles, a record for the month and Audi's eighth straight month of record sales. For the year, the brand is up 15 percent, with 75,256 sales.
Mitsubishi: Not yet reported.
Volvo: Volvo's strong sales year continued in August, as the automaker reported sales of 5,215 vehicles in the U.S, up 17.4 percent over August 2010. On the year, Volvo is up 27.4 percent.
Porsche: The sportscar, sedan and SUV maker reported August sales of 2,184 vehicles, a 7-percent increase over last August's 2,032 vehicles.
Jaguar/Land Rover: Sales of Jaguar vehicles fell to 810 units in August, a 43-percent drop attributed to model changeover. Land Rover sales of 2,807 vehicles represented a 10-percent increase over last August. On the year, the two brands are up 9 percent over 2010, with Land Rover up 16 percent and Jaguar down 7 percent.
Suzuki: For the 11th month in a row, Suzuki sales were up, this time 32 percent over August 2010.
Saab: Not yet reported.