EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Business

September 9, 2012

August automobile sales rev up 20 percent

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Consumers are comparing the cost of repairing and operating older vehicles with what they would have to pay for a new vehicle, and higher fuel prices have become a tipping point, said Ken Czubay, Ford’s U.S. sales chief.

The average age of vehicles on the road now is approaching 11 years, and the fuel savings compared to a new car can be significant, he said.

For example, a driver of a 2013 Ford Escape SUV with a small turbocharged, four-cylinder engine would save about $700 a year in gas compared with a 2002 version of the Escape, according to Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy data. That grows to $1,250 a year for people downsizing from a 2002 Ford Explorer, a bigger SUV.

Likewise, Nissan’s hot-selling 2013 Altima sedan will cost a driver about $600 less a year to fuel than the 2002 Altima. The comparisons assume the vehicles are driven 13,500 miles annually at an average gas price of $4 a gallon.

GM, the nation’s largest auto seller, posted sales of 240,520, a 10 percent gain. Ford Motor Co. sales rose 13 percent to 196,749 vehicles.

Chrysler Group sales climbed 14 percent to 148,472 vehicles. It was the automaker’s best August sales since 2007. Chrysler’s gain was driven in part by sales of its new Dodge Dart compact sedan. Ram truck sales also were strong.

The Japanese brands continued to show resiliency from the earthquake last year that interrupted production and created inventory shortages.

Honda’s U.S. sales soared almost 60 percent to 131,321 vehicles.

“We’re on track to post our best yearly sales results in four years,” said John Mendel, American Honda’s executive vice president of sales.

Toyota sales rose 46 percent to 188,520 vehicles.

“Customer loyalty for the Asian brands turned out to be stronger than we gave credit to,” said Jesse Toprak, an analyst with auto price information company TrueCar.com. “Toyota and Honda recovered their market share losses much faster than we anticipated.”

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