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Auto sales rise as higher gas prices, aging vehicles spur demand

Americans may be worried that the economy isn’t picking up enough momentum, but they aren’t concerned enough to stop buying fuel-efficient new cars and trucks to replace aging vehicles.

Chrysler said Tuesday that sales rose 14 percent in August amid strong demand for its Ram pickup truck. It was Chrysler’s 29th consecutive month of year-on-year sales. Ford’s U.S. August sales rose 13 percent, to 197,249 vehicles.

And General Motors Co posted a 10 percent jump, as higher gasoline prices spurred sales of GM’s Cruze and other compact cars. Average U.S. gasoline prices have risen about 21 cents a gallon in the past month.

“Higher gas prices in August will lead to unseasonably strong small car performance across the industry,” said Edmunds.com analyst Jessica Caldwell.

With roughly 70 percent of the market reporting so far on Tuesday, the U.S. auto industry is on track to show an annual sales rate of 14.5 million vehicles, J.P. Morgan said. Analysts polled by Reuters forecast an annualized sales rate of 14.2 million light vehicles.

The fact that consumers are replacing older cars and trucks helped U.S. auto sales in August gain at a faster rate than the overall economy, said Carsten Krebs, head of communications for Volkswagen Group of America.

via Bottom Line.

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