Chrysler led the charge for auto sales last month as the industry rebounded with volumes not seen since before the recession. Chrysler, a unit of Fiat SpA, showed a 20-percent gain in sales in August, while Nissan was up 11.5 percent and Ford sales rose 0.4 percent. The one negative was General Motors, which has been battling bad publicity this year over the recalls of many of millions of its vehicles. GM sales fell 1.2 percent last month, although that was better than analysts had expected. Auto sales are an early indicator of consumer demand as the industry accounts for one-fifth of all U.S. retail spending. Research firm Edmunds.com pointed to two trends affecting August sales: A higher percentage of zero-interest loans and gas prices falling to their lowest in four years. Incentive spending by the industry last month also climbed from a year ago, to an average $2,772 per vehicle, according to research firm TrueCar.com. Virtually all major automakers except Nissan boosted discounts from a year ago. GM, Ford and Chrysler all reported healthy gains in sales of full-size pickups, which provide the bulk of their profits.
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