DETROIT (AP) — Most automakers reported stronger-than-expected U.S. sales in August, leading to predictions of the highest annual selling rate in eight years.
Chrysler and Nissan led the way with double-digit increases, while Toyota reported sales were up 6 percent. Ford and General Motors exceeded analysts' expectations. Ford sales rose 0.4 percent, while GM posted a 1.2 percent decrease. Volkswagen continued to struggle with sales off almost 13 percent from a year ago.
In almost all cases, truck and crossover SUVs led automakers, showing that the pronounced shift away from cars is continuing. Car prices remained flat, while SUV and pickup truck prices were up, according to Ford.
Chrysler, GM and Ford all predicted an annual light-vehicle selling rate for the month of around 17.2 million, the highest number since August 2006. Sales had been running at just over 16 million for the year. Many companies expect August sales to rise over 1.5 million vehicles, up slightly from a year ago despite one more selling day last year.
"The industry appears to be very strong at this stage of the recovery," said Erich Merkle, Ford's top sales analyst.
Chrysler's sales leaped 20 percent as the Jeep brand led the automaker to its best August in a dozen years. Nissan reported nearly a 12 percent increase.