Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co. and Hyundai posted double-digit gains in U.S. sales in August behind strong demand for light trucks.
Volume rose 11 percent at Toyota, with sales rising 12 percent at the Toyota division and 4.6 percent at Lexus, which snapped a fourth-month streak of declines. The company said Toyota brand car sales advanced 8.4 percent and light-truck deliveries increased 15 percent to more than 143,000, a monthly record.
At American Honda, deliveries jumped 18 percent to a monthly record of 173,993, with volume rising 20 percent at the Honda division—reflecting record light-truck shipments and strong car demand—and 0.8 percent at Acura. Honda also appeared to benefit from sharply higher incentives last month, ALG data show.
New and redesigned crossovers, along with strong retail growth, drove Hyundai to another gain in August, with volume rising 12 percent for the second consecutive month.
It is the brand's 13th straight month of year-over-year gains.
Retail volume increased 11 percent in August, Hyundai said, marking the sixth time in the last seven months that the brand achieved year-over-year retail sales growth. Hyundai, along with Kia, also were among the few auto makers to reduce incentive spending in August, according to ALG data.
Retail deliveries of Hyundai crossovers totaled 34,844, a monthly record, with sales of the subcompact Kona rising 34 percent. Hyundai said August sales of the new three-row Palisade crossover topped 5,000, exceeding company targets.
"Given this response we are working hard to increase dealer inventory to satisfy the tremendous demand" for Palisade, Randy Parker, vice president of national sales for Hyundai, said in a statement.
Mazda snapped a 13-month losing streak with August sales rising 6.5 percent to 27,482, though the brand's volume is now off 12 percent for the year.
Labor Day boost
U.S. light-vehicle sales are forecast to rise for the second straight month in August, helped by five sales weekends that included the key Labor Day holiday, though Hurricane Dorian was expected to dampen demand in parts of Florida and the southeast.
Many dealers along Florida's Atlantic coast shuttered or curtailed sales operations over the weekend as showroom traffic dwindled and to allow employees to prepare for the storm.
"Hurricane Dorian might have delayed some new vehicle purchases, but its overall impact on August sales appears to be fairly nominal," said Jessica Caldwell, an analyst with Edmunds.
The seasonally adjusted, annualized sales rate for August is forecast to drop to 16.5 million to 16.8 million, from 16.82 million in July and 17.01 million in August 2018, based on estimates by ALG, Edmunds, Cox Automotive and J.D. Power/LMC Automotive. If the forecasts hold, it will be the fifth month this year the sales pace ran slower than 17 million.
Healthy job gains and steady economic growth continue to support sales, analysts say, even as rising new-vehicle prices discourage some buyers.
Analysts say Ford is the only major auto maker expected to generate lower sales last month as the company continues to largely exit the sedan market. General Motors, Ford and FCA US now report U.S. sales every quarter. U.S. electric-vehicle maker Tesla Inc. reports only global sales on a quarterly basis.
U.S. sales rose 1.2 percent in July—the year's first gain—but are off 1.9 percent through July based on Automotive News data center estimates, with lower retail demand offset by stronger first-half fleet deliveries.
But sales have varied widely across the country. LMC Automotive says retail sales fell 2.4 percent through July, with retail demand down 1.1 percent in the Northeast and flat in the Southeastern U.S.
In the first seven months, retail deliveries fell 7 percent in the Southwest, 5 percent in the Northwest and 4 percent in North Central and Southern states.
Industry volume has topped 17 million four straight years but some analysts see that streak ending in 2019 as rising new-vehicle prices deter some consumers.