The Jeep Cherokee drove off with its best month yet in August, further cementing its success and helping Chrysler Group LLC continue to sizzle.
Chrysler said it sold 18,674 of the Toledo-built sport utility vehicle last month, easily toppling the previous record set in May. The Cherokee was the company’s second-best-selling vehicle in August behind only the Ram pickup.
The company has sold nearly 140,000 Cherokees in the United States since the vehicle went on sale in October.
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The Jeep Patriot and Dodge Journey also set new monthly sales records for Chrysler, while sales of the Ram were up 33 percent. The Toledo-built Jeep Wrangler also continued to sell well, with August sales up 14 percent from last year to 17,988. That’s its second best month on record.
Though Chrysler’s star may be burning the brightest — overall sales were up 20 percent over last year — the whole industry stayed hot in August.
Research firm Autodata Corp. said light vehicle sales rose 6 percent over last year to 1.6 million in August. Even more noteworthy was the annualized sales pace hitting 17.5 million vehicles, the highest level in more than eight years.
All that in a month most analysts expected to be a little slow.
Eric Lyman, vice president of industry insights at TrueCar, said some of those sales were likely helped along by automakers offering slightly more generous incentives last month.
“As that momentum built through the month, we saw a big surge in the last weekend of the month with Labor Day sales exceeding our expectations,” Mr. Lyman said.
Despite that, the average transaction price for a new car continued to rise in August. Kelley Blue Book said the average new car cost $32,495 last month, 3 percent more than last year. That’s primarily because consumers continue gravitating toward more expensive trucks and crossovers.
Every major automaker except General Motors Co. reported a gain from last year. Nissan said its sales were up 12 percent, while Toyota and Hyundai were up 6 percent. Kia rose 5 percent. Ford Motor Co. and Honda each squeezed out a gain of less than 1 percent.
GM sales were down a little more than 1 percent from last year. However, the company is optimistic about the rest of the year.
“We see a strong fall selling season ahead for GM and the industry, which sets the stage for the launches of the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon,” GM vice president Kurt McNeil said in a prepared statement.
GM reported having already received nearly 28,000 dealer orders for the midsize Colorado pickup, and another 14,000 for its Canyon sibling.
“Car-buying fundamentals like employment and energy prices are in good shape, consumer confidence has reached a post-recession high, and business investment is increasing,” Mr. McNeil said.
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