Surprisingly strong August auto sales for the domestic companies led to a surprising number of monthly sales peaks at GM, Ford and the Chrysler Group. In fact, that trio dominated the ranks of the record breakers last month: Of the 17 vehicles that set new high-water marks for August volume, 11 of them were from the American automakers. The breakdown includes three each from Chevy and Dodge, two Fords and two Volkswagens, and singletons from Acura, Nissan, Infiniti, Fiat, Jeep, Volvo and the Chrysler brand.
(Note: All the following individual sales numbers come directly from the automakers; also, vehicles in their first year on the market are not included.)
August Record Breakers: Chevy Volt, Chevy Cruze and Chevy Equinox
It turns out that while many in the media were fretting about Chevy’s decision to temporarily halt production of the Chevrolet Volt for a few weeks, customers were driving up sales of the extended-range EV by a healthy 837.4 percent. The result was a total of 2,831 deliveries, the most ever for the Volt in a single month. The pary line on Volt production: The plant was being idled to help it retool for production of the next-gen Chevy Impala.
The Chevy Cruze also set an all-time monthly sales record in August, thanks to 25,975 deliveries that were up by 19.1 percent over the same month last year. And along with that record came the August title of best-selling compact car in America. It’s an especially impressive performance when you consider that the Cruze’s key Japanese rivals—like the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla—are no longer being impacted by 2011’s natural disasters.
Perhaps even more unexpected was the new August record from the Chevy Equinox, now facing off against significantly newer competition from the likes of the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape and Mazda CX-5. The Equinox was good for 20,231 sales last month, an increase of 21.8 percent.
August Record Breakers: Dodge Journey, Dodge Avenger and Dodge Challenger
After breaking monthly sales records in both June and July, the Dodge Journey kept its winning streak alive last month with a 58 percent jump in deliveries to 7,922 units—the full-size crossover’s highest monthly sales total ever. The Journey also is priced to continue its sizzling sales pace going into the new model year: Dodge recently revealed that the 2013 Dodge Journey will continue to offer the same high-value starting point as the 2012 versions, showing off an MSRP that opens at $18,995—and price drops on two of its premium trims.
Then, after skipping a month in July, the Dodge Avenger returned to the roster of record breakers with 7,973 August sales (+26 percent). Dodge’s mid-size sedan now has posted new sales benchmarks in two out of the three past months.
Similarly, the Dodge Challenger is back as well, except that best-priced V8 muscle car in the nation has set records in six of the last seven months. It also scored a class win in the Autobytel/AutoPacific 2012 Ideal vehicle awards last month, too. The Challenger’s August volume of 3,311 units was worth a 5 percent bump as compared to the same month in 2011.
August Record Breakers: Ford Escape and Ford Fusion
Despite an unfortunate series of recalls, the all-new 2013 Ford Escape is more than living up to its hype on the sales charts. The high-tech Ford product was the No. 1 crossover in the country in August, and the fifth-best seller overall, as a result of 28,188 sales that represented both a monthly record and an increase of 36.8 percent.
With the Escape soon to be joined at dealerships by an equally fresh Ford Fusion, the latter’s record-setting August performance may be a little surprising, but it shouldn’t be. The current Fusion is finishing its lifecycle in a rush that has seen the mid-size sedan score three straight monthly sales benchmarks, culminating in an August in which the car sold 21,690 units and boosted sales by 21 percent. The 2013 Fusion will begin sales this month, with an MSRP that starts at $21,700.
August Record Breakers: VW Passat and VW Tiguan
Volkswagen as a whole rang up its best August sales in some four decades—delivering 41,011 units and a 62.5 growth rate—and a pair of monthly sales records from the VW Passat mid-size sedan and VW Tiguan small crossover certainly helped. The former benefitted from a nifty volume increase of 3,113.4 percent that brought 10,090 sales, while the later attracted 2,746 new customers for an increase of 36.9 percent versus August 2011.
The two also attracted some notable attention from third-party recognition programs: Autobytel/AutoPacific ranked the Passat as the top choice in the mid-size sedan segment of the Ideal Vehicle Awards, and the Tiguan garnered the prize as the No. 1 Entry Utility in Strategic Vision’s 2012 Total Quality Awards. (Strategic Vision further named the Volkswagen Group as a whole, including Audi, as the automaker with the best overall Total Quality in America.)
August Record Breakers: Fiat 500
It’s seven monthly sales records in a row for the Fiat 500, which finished August with 4,150 sales that were 34 percent more than in the previous August. Sales should continue to rise this fall, too, when the Fiat 500 Turbo joins la familia. Packing a turbocharged I4 engine that delivers 135 hp and 150 lb.-ft. of torque—increases of 34 percent and 53 percent over the standard 500—along with some racy style upgrades, the 500 Turbo will wear a price tag of $19,500.
August Record Breakers: Chrysler 200
The Chrysler 200 notched its third straight monthly sales record in August, courtesy of 4,668 deliveries that reflected an increase of 65 percent over the same month last year. And that represents a bit of a slowdown for the 200, since the mid-size sedan remains ahead of last year’s sales pace by 158 percent through the first eight months of 2012. The 200 also happens to have the lowest price of admission of any mainstream mid-size sedan, with an $18,995 MSRP.
August Record Breakers: Jeep Wrangler
The Jeep Wrangler is on track to break the 100,000-unit mark this month, after enjoying 13,293 sales in the previous one. That 3 percent bump over August 2011 was just enough to help the Wrangler achieve its fourth monthly record in the past five months, and the new 2013 Wrangler Moab edition, on its way to dealerships now should be enough to help the rock-crawler achieve its fifth in the last six.
August Record Breakers: Acura RDX
The Acura RDX consolidated its place as one of the premium crossover segment's most popular entries in August by ringing up its fourth consecutive monthly sales record, a 156.9 percent leap in deliveries, and 2,926 sales. Also significant is the fact that the RDX’s rising tide of sales seems to be lifting the whole division, which sold a record number of crossovers in August and was the No. 3 brand in the country last month in terms of overall sales growth—up 72.8 percent.
August Record Breakers: Nissan Rogue
As the Cal Ripken of the auto industry’s record breakers, the Nissan Rogue—competing in the highly competitive small crossover class—just put up a new monthly benchmark for volume for the 15th straight month. The bottom line: another 12,626 sales, reflecting a 10.1 percent move northward for the best-selling truck in the Nissan lineup.
August Record Breakers: Infiniti G
The Infiniti G sedan welcomed a 20.1 percent sales improvement last month as compared to August of 2011, with 5,123 units that marked the car’s second straight record performance. With a streamlined 2013 lineup now at dealerships—featuring just three trim levels—the G sedan could be hard pressed to keep its momentum going, however.
August Record Breakers: Volvo XC60
Flying slightly under the radar, Volvo actually has been gaining altitude fairly quickly in past months. August’s sales were up a robust 20.1 percent, and the XC60 did most of the heavy lifting: Sales of the premium crossover, which won its segment in the 2012 Vincentric Best Value in America Awards, rose by 101.1 percent—setting a second consecutive monthly record with 1,898 deliveries.