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What's Up Mac? Lease-Led August 2013 US Auto Sales Jump 17% - Oh By The Way Happy 86th Birthday Mac!


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By Mac Gordon
Woodland Hills, CA

The surge in U.S. new-car sales last month brought on the highest month in 6 years, delighting auto makers no end and setting the stage for near record results in September and the 4th quarter. August sales jumped to 1 million and the SAAR to 16.9 million! What’s more, late summer sales are being riven by leasing’s recovery among top-selling nameplates in domestic and imported brands, especially Honda, Toyota, Audi, Chevrolet, Ford, Nissan, and Hyundai/Kia, VW and Subaru.

It was significant that all of the top brands gained market share during August. “Hottest” models remained Ford F-series, Toyota Camry, Honda Civic and Accord both and also the Toyota pair of Prius and Corolla.

After a market struggle, GM was able for the first time in years to post gains in each of its quartet of brands – Cadillac 38%, Buick, 37% GMC, 14% and Chevrolet 10% (despite a slump in the popular Cruze’s sales of 8% - attributed by dealers to a shortage of models built at the Lordstown plant. (GM has increased the Lordstown production with dealer orders on the rise. Cruze’s spurt has accompanied a boost in GM dealer leases, as well as those of imports.)

Volkswagen’s Audi brand has led the luxury-car parade, with 60% of its retail deliveries being leased. Dealers report sales windfalls from Sunday-supplement offers of lease payments as low as $99 on the Cruze and $199 on the Malibu.

Ford is no exception to the lease feast. Looking into the fall auto show season, this reporter foresees continued volume and market share uplifts. Leases are collecting as much as half of most dealers’ sales – Detroit-3, Ford Motor, Chrysler Group and GM.

Heavy-duty trucks are propping up the industry, with the Ford F-series up 22% n August, Chevy Silverado up 14% and Chrysler Ram 29%.

Down the road there are few challenges for the Detroit-3 or Japanese-3 for market share or volume increase. The top players GM, Ford and Chrysler vis-a-vis Toyota, Honda and Nissan – tracked by Hyundai/Kia, Volkswagen/Audi and independents Subaru, Mazda and Mitsubishi. All of the above now love those leases – and are joining the high-tech parade of 2014 and 2015 models! All of the above are girding to unveil their updated cars as the 2014-model season unfolds.