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Automobile sales numbers in August beat forecasts

Chrysler's reintroduction of the Dodge Dart is a hit. Sales of the updated model almost quadrupled in August to 3,045 cars. The Dart was on the shelf for 36 years.
Chrysler's reintroduction of the Dodge Dart is a hit. Sales of the updated model almost quadrupled in August to 3,045 cars. The Dart was on the shelf for 36 years. ASSOCIATED PRESS

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. — Major automakers said Tuesday that U.S. sales in August rose more than analysts estimated as new models such as the Dodge Dart and Ford Escape bolster the market's best year since 2007.

The stronger-than-expected results from the biggest sellers of cars and light trucks in the United States reflect continuing strength in the one sector of the economy that has held up as the recovery stumbles.

"This is an affirmation that the automotive market is strong," said Alan Baum of auto-industry forecaster Baum & Associates. "This would normally be a time in the year when model year-end incentives kick in, and there were some targeted incentives in place that were effective."

Chrysler said deliveries of the Dart almost quadrupled from a month earlier to 3,045, helping extend its streak of U.S. sales gains to 29 months. Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne is counting on a steady climb in demand for Dart, introduced in June, as Chrysler continues to update its lineup.

Ford, which just introduced a new Escape small sport- utility vehicle, said sales of the model rose 37 percent to 28,188. Ford also said it added a third shift to the Escape factory in Kentucky last month to meet demand.

U.S. auto sales are on pace to exceed 14 million for the industry's best total since 2007 and gain by at least 10 percent for the third-straight year. That's the first such streak since 1973.

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