Large automakers Wednesday reported generally higher US sales in August on strong demand for trucks and sport utility vehicles, although market leader General Motors suffered a modest decline.
Total light vehicle sales in August were 1.59 million, up 5.5 percent from the year-ago period, according to industry specialist AutoData.
That was above the 1.51 million projected by auto industry specialists Edmunds.com.
The strongest gains came at Chrysler, which notched a 20 percent increase in sales to 198,379 compared with August 2013 due to especially large increases at Jeep (+49 percent) and Ram Truck, with some Ram vehicles gaining 33 percent.
But GM, the biggest US automaker, saw sales decline by 1.2 percent from August 2013 to 272,423. Deliveries of Buicks and Cadillacs fell by 10.2 percent and 17.8 percent, respectively.
However GM's sales still bested the level projected by Edmunds.com, which had forecast sales of just 256,160.
GM also gave a bullish outlook about the upcoming months.
"We see a strong fall selling season ahead for GM and the industry," said Kurt McNeil, GM US vice president for sales.
"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."
Autodata said Wednesday's results implied an annual sales rate of 17.53 million units, well above forecasts.
The August sales rate "was the highest level of auto sales since January 2006 and suggests that real consumer spending is rebounding in August after declining in July," said Barclays.
Ford scored a 0.4 percent rise in sales to 222,174 vehicles due to strong sales of its Ford Explorer SUV and the Fusion sedan.
Toyota reported 2014 sales of 246,100 units, a 6.2 percent rise from last year. The Japanese automaker cited strong sales of SUVs.
Honda sales gained 0.4 percent to 167,038, while Nissan sales jumped 11.5 percent to 134,388.
Edmunds analyst Jessica Caldwell said the latest round of sales were boosted by generous financing terms and the lowest August gasoline prices in four years.
"Stable gas prices go a long way toward making trucks and SUVs more attractive to shoppers," Caldwell said. "And if history is any indication, shoppers can expect gas prices to fall even more through the end of the year."