By Andrew Ganz
Tuesday, Sep 4th, 2012 @ 1:06 pm
 
After a dismal summer of 2011, Honda and Toyota rallied last month to post some of their best sales numbers in years, but perhaps the biggest surprise came from Volkswagen.

The German automaker wasn't affected by last year's disastrous earthquake and tsunami that crippled Japanese automaker production, but it still managed to post a hefty sales increase last month.

Overall, sales were up 20 percent last month, which boosted the seasonally-adjusted annual sales rate to 14.53 million, a 400,000 unit increase in year-end estimated sales for the entire inudstry. Our analysis follows the raw numbers below.

August's Numbers
Acura - Up 73 percent to 15,646
Audi - Up 13 percent to 11,527
BMW - Down 19 percent to 16,835
Buick - Up 12 percent to 18,000
Cadillac - Up 11 percent to 14,704
Chevrolet - Up 11 percent to 169,978
Chrysler - Up 25 percent to 28,070
Dodge - Up 13 percent to 47,348
Fiat - Up 34 percent to 4,150
Ford - Up 13 percent to 189,108
GMC - Up 4 percent to 37,838
Honda - Up 58 percent to 115,675
Hyundai - Up 4 percent to 61,099
Infiniti - Up 24 percent to 11,155
Jaguar - Up 27 percent to 1,029
Jeep - Up 5 percent to 42,839
Kia - Up 22 percent to 50,028
Land Rover - Up 33 percent to 3,727
Lexus - Up 34 percent to 24,237
Lincoln - Up 2 percent to 8,141
Maserati - Up 4 percent to 219
Mazda - Down 2 percent to 22,234
Mercedes-Benz - Up 12 percent to 22,686
Mitsubishi - Down 47 percent to 4,249
MINI - Up 84 percent to 5,718
Nissan - Up 6 percent to 87,360
Porsche - Up 39 percent to 3,026
Ram - Up 18 percent to 26,065
Smart - Up 86 percent to 753
Subaru - Up 36 percent to 28,293
Suzuki - Down 18 percent to 1,968
Toyota (Includes Scion) - Up 46 percent to 188,520
Volkswagen - Up 63 percent to 41,011
Volvo - Up 21 percent to 6,323


strong>BMW Group - Down 6 percent to 22,553
Chrysler - Up 14 percent to 148,472
Daimler - Up 13 percent to 23,443
Ford Motor Company - Up 13 percent to 197,249
General Motors - Up 10 percent to 240,520
American Honda - Up 60 percent to 131,321
Hyundai Group - Up 12 percent to 111,127
Jaguar Land Rover - Up 31 percent to 4,756
Nissan North America - Up 8 percent to 98,515
Toyota USA - Up 46 percent to 188,520

2012 YTD Numbers
Acura - Up 28 percent to 101,407
Audi - Up 18 percent to 88,392
BMW - Up 6 percent to 164,636
Buick - Down 3 percent to 122,589
Cadillac - Down 10 percent to 90,933
Chevrolet - Up 5 percent to 1,270,582
Chrysler - Up 62 percent to 216,616
Dodge - Up Up 13 percent to 344,556
Fiat - Up 158 percent to 28,566
Ford - Up 6 percent to 1,457,760
GMC - Up 4 percent to 273,366
Honda - Up 22 percent to 847,840
Hyundai - Up 9 percent to 479,789
Infiniti - Up 21 percent to 77,151
Jaguar - Up 4 percent to 8,546
Jeep - Up 22 percent to 325,945
Kia - Up 17 percent to 386,809
Land Rover - Up 22 percent to 28,038
Lexus - Up 25 percent to 150,604
Lincoln - Down 1 percent to 57,078
Maserati - Up 14 percent to 1,715
Mazda - Up 12 percent to 185,349
Mercedes-Benz - Up 15 percent to 182,077
Mitsubishi - Down 31 percent to 41,316
MINI - Up 16 percent to 43,632
Nissan - Up 13 percent to 697,426
Porsche - Up 9 percent to 22,279
Ram - Up 18 percent to 192,946
Smart - Up 91 percent to 6,281
Subaru - Up 25 percent to 217,780
Suzuki - Down 6 percent to 17,228
Toyota (Includes Scion) - Up 31 percent to 1,248,910
Volkswagen - Up 38 percent to 286,750
Volvo - Down 1 percent to 46,653


BMW Group - Up 8 percent to 208,268
Chrysler - Up 26 percent to 1,108,629
Daimler - Up 16 percent to 188,390
Ford Motor Company - Up 6 percent to 1,514,838
General Motors - Up 4 percent to 1,757,470
American Honda - Up 23 percent to 949,247
Hyundai Group - Up 12 percent to 866,598
Jaguar Land Rover - Up 18 percent to 36,584
Nissan North America - Up 14 percent to 774,577
Toyota USA - Up 30 percent to 1,399,514

The Domestics
Chrysler says that last month was its best August in five years, as well as its 29th consecutive month of year-over-year sales gains. Leading the charge in terms of volume growth was the Dodge Caravan, which saw about a 4,300 unit increase to 16,428 vehicles. Other good news came from the Chrysler 300 (up 65 percent), Fiat 500 (up 34 percent), Dodge Journey (up 58 percent) and Dodge Charger (up 30 percent). The Dodge Durango was an outlier with sales down 45 percent.

Ford's all-new Escape and lame-duck Fusion both set August records last month, which helped propel the automaker's sales well above its year-to-date rate. In addition, Ford saw strength from its Focus compact (up 35 percent) and Explorer crossover (up 33 percent). On the flip side, demand for the Fiesta tumbled (down 28 percent) and the Flex slipped (down 7 percent). Notably, Ford also said that its EcoBoost-equipped F-150s topped the 200,000 mark for the year.

At General Motors, the best news came from the automaker's Buick and Cadillac divisions, both of which are beginning to show signs of life after months of declines. Sales were up for Cadillac's Escalade and SRX, and GM's most expensive sedan - the XTS - found 2,158 buyers last month. At Buick, the picture was muddier, with only the LaCrosse showing a gain over last year, although 5,200 buyers took home Veranos, making the new-for-2012 model Buick's second best seller. Chevrolet saw mixed demand, though its Volt posted its best month ever by a wide margin (up 837 percent to 2,831).

The Asians
Honda's Accord was just nudged out of being the best-selling passenger car on the market, even though the current model is days away from being replaced. That's an impressive feat by any stretch. The rest of Honda's numbers were similarly solid all around - and the automaker even sold an FCX Clarity, one of three delivered this year as part of the automaker's test program. Acura had even more reason to celebrate, although the ILX is nabbing a few TSX sales. While the TSX still outsells ILX overall, its sales were down 7 percent (though 370 TSX Wagons were sold, a 40 percent boost).

Hyundai continues to break records, hitting its best August ever thanks to sales increases for virtually all of its models aside from the Santa Fe - a new Santa Fe is just now arriving in showrooms.

The automaker's kissing cousin, Kia, also broke an August record. The automaker was most proud of its Optima midsize sedan, which topped 100,000 for the first time ever. Optima more than doubled sales to 13,949 compared to last year and it remains Kia's best seller by a wide margin.

August wasn't Mazda's best month, although the two models boasting its flagship Skyactiv technology - the Mazda3 and CX-5 - both posted solid figures.

Nissan's Rogue set an August record (up 10 percent to 12,626), while its mainstream 2013 Nissan Altima sedan was boosted 13 percent for its second month on the market. Meanwhile, the automaker's Infiniti division continues to gain ground on the JX35, which is now its second best seller.

Toyota continues to bounce back from last year's weak supply situation caused by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Among its volume models, only the Avalon and Venza saw declines - and an all-new Avalon is due out later this year. Lexus had a similarly rosy picture, although the CT and IS both saw sales drop off.

The Europeans
Audi broke a monthly record with sales up almost across the line. Among its volume models, only the Q5 crossover (down 13 percent) was a loser last month.

What's the deal with BMW? After apparently cooking the numbers in July to beat Mercedes-Benz, the German brand's sales tanked in August. Lyuckily, MINI emerged as a bright spot.

VW saw its best August in nearly 40 years overall, as well as its best August ever for the Passat and Tiguan. Aside from the CC and the Routan, all of its models posted positive numbers, but the most unexpected winner was the Touareg, which defied higher gas prices to post a 77 percent gain.

A strong August helped Volvo almost turn around its weak year-to-date numbers. Its best performer was the XC60, which saw sales more than double, although the S60's 32 percent boost was also pretty solid.

Leftlane's bottom line
A tale of two automakers emerged from Germany: Rock star VW, which has successfully focused its efforts on building cars for Americans, and BMW, which followed a similar mantra but seems to be struggling to put buyers in cars. Needless to say, it will be interesting to see how these two automakers fare, especially since VW's Audi unit continues to break records.

Among more mainstream automakers, it came as no surprise that Honda and Toyota bounced back so strongly since their dealers have way more cars to sell now than they did at this time last year. Over the long term, it will take some time to determine just how big of a dent last year's disaster will have made, since many buyers who jumped ship last year might remain loyal to their new automakers.