SOUTHFIELD, Mich. — Chrysler Group, Ford and General Motors said Tuesday that U.S. sales in August rose more than analysts estimated as new models such as the Dodge Dart and Ford Escape bolster the market’s best year since 2007.
Chrysler deliveries last month increased 14 percent from a year earlier, the Auburn Hills, Mich.-based company said in a statement. Ford sales rose 13 percent and GM’s climbed 10 percent. The automakers topped 10 analysts’ average estimates of 9.9 percent for Chrysler, 8.5 percent for Ford and 3 percent for GM. Honda and Toyota deliveries surged 60 percent and 46 percent to also beat estimates.
The stronger-than-expected results from the five biggest sellers of cars and light trucks in the United States reflect continuing strength in the one sector of the economy that has held up as the recovery stumbles. The industry’s rebound has spurred hiring at automobile assembly plants and helped lower Michigan’s unemployment rate closer to the national average.
“This is an affirmation that the automotive market is strong,” Alan Baum, principal of auto-industry forecaster Baum & Associates in West Bloomfield, Mich., said in a telephone interview. “This would normally be a time in the year when model year-end incentives kick in, and there were some targeted incentives in place that were effective.”
Honda and Toyota exceeded seven analysts’ average estimate for gains of 59 percent and 40 percent. Accord deliveries climbed 89 percent to 34,848, the Tokyo-based automaker said in a statement. Sales of the Prius model line of hybrids and RAV4 sport-utility vehicle both more than doubled, according to a statement on Toyota City, Japan-based Toyota’s website.
Nissan sales rose 7.6 percent, according to a statement. The Yokohama, Japan-based automaker missed seven analysts’ average estimate for a 12 percent increase. Deliveries of the Altima, which is being updated for the 2013 model year, gained 12 percent to 25,889.
Chrysler, the automaker controlled by Fiat, said deliveries of the Dart almost quadrupled from a month earlier to 3,045, helping extend its streak of U.S. sales gains to 29 months. Chief executive officer Sergio Marchionne is counting on a steady climb in demand for Dart, introduced in June, as Chrysler continues to update its lineup.
“We expect Chrysler to continue to gobble up incremental share in the compact-car segment,” Alec Gutierrez, an analyst at Irvine, Calif.-based auto-market researcher Kelley Blue Book, said in a telephone interview. “Chrysler is still trying to get enough selection of variety out to their dealers to satisfy demand. Their product portfolio has improved.”
Ford, which just introduced a new Escape small sport-utility vehicle, said sales of the model rose 37 percent to 28,188. Ford also said it added a third shift to the Escape factory in Kentucky last month to meet demand. Deliveries of F-Series pickups climbed 19 percent to 58,201, model line’s best monthly total this year, according to a statement.
“There’s nothing in our lineup that I have to apologize for,” said Beau Boeckmann, vice president of Galpin Motors in Van Nuys, Calif. The dealership, Ford’s largest in the U.S., had a 20 percent sales gain on the strength of new models.
U.S. auto sales are on pace to exceed 14 million for the industry’s best total since 2007 and gain by at least 10 percent for the third-straight year. That’s the first such streak since 1973.