by Katherine Harbin
CHICAGO, Sept. 4 (Xinhua) -- U.S. auto sales for the "Big Three " Detroit automakers sharply rose in August, with General Motors, Ford and Chrysler all on Tuesday reporting year-over-year sales gains of at least 10 percent.
Chrysler Group LLC posted their best August since 2007, with U. S. sales rising 14 percent compared to the same period last year. Chrysler altogether sold 148,472 vehicles in August, with each of the automaker's five brands posting year-over-year sales gains of at least five percent.
Chrysler's strongest performance came from its Fiat brand, which posted an all-time sales record with its increase of 34 percent.
The Chrysler brand also had a solid month, posting a 25 percent year-over-year increase and logging its best August sales in five years. Driving the brand's performance was a 65 percent sales gain for the Chrysler 300 sedan, and an August sales record logged by the Chrysler 200 model.
Rounding out Chrysler's highlights was a 13 percent increase for its Dodge brand, which reported its best August sales in seven years. With 47,348 units sold, Dodge captured Chrysler's largest brand sales by volume, and sales of the Dodge Dart in particular surged 294 percent in August, the third month since the model's launch.
At Ford, sales were also encouraging, with total sales increasing 13 percent compared to the same period last year. Ford sold a total of 197,249 vehicles, and saw retail sales rise 19 percent compared to the same period last year.
Ford cited its Escape model as one of the main factors behind its August success, as with a 37 percent year-over-year increase the model notched its best August ever. Passenger cars Fusion and Focus also tapped distinction, as the Fusion posted its best August ever and Focus sales increased 21 percent.
For larger vehicles, sales of Ford's F-Series trucks grew 19 percent and logged their best sales month in 2012. The Ford Explorer also posted its best August sales results since 2006.
Rounding out the Big Three Detroit automakers was GM, which reported a year-over-year sales increase of ten percent. GM sold 240,520 vehicles in August, with year-over-year retail sales increasing 11 percent, and fleet sales up six percent. The gain in fleet sales was a stark change since July, when GM had reported a 41 decline in fleet sales.
With the exception of the GMC brand, which posted a three percent year-over-year sales increase, all of GM's other brands posted at least double digit sales gains.
Sales of Chevrolet brand passenger cars were up 25 percent in August, with sales of the Chevrolet Equinox rising 22 percent year- over-year and setting an August sales record. However, sales for larger Chevrolet models were not as strong as those for passenger cars, as total Chevrolet brand sales were moderated to 11.3 percent.
The year-over-year sales gain for GM's Cadillac brand was also 11.3 percent in August, which GM attributed to demand for the SRX crossover, Escalade and the XTS sedan models. Buick completed the better than expected month for GM, with total Buick sales rising 12.4 percent in August to post their best retail sales since September 2007.
GM said U.S. light vehicle sales in registered at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 14.6 million vehicles, an increase from their current year-to-date SAAR estimate of 14.3 million vehicles. For the full year 2012, GM estimates sales of 14 to 14.5 million vehicles.
If 2012 U.S. auto sales were to reach that total, it would be a substantial increase from 2011 U.S. auto sales, which research group Autodata Corp. estimated totaled 12.8 million units.