Global auto makers sold 6.41 million vehicles in August, up 8% from like-2011, marking the seventh straight month of year-over-year growth and the seventh consecutive month that deliveries exceeded 6 million units worldwide.
In North America, sales rose 17.5% to 1.55 million units, accounting for 24.2% of worldwide sales, the region’s largest share of the global market since the height of a U.S. scrappage program in August 2009.
The spike was fueled by a 19.5% jump in U.S. vehicle deliveries, bolstered by increased availability of credit, end-of-model-run incentives and slow, steady economic growth. Canada sales rose 6.3%, and Mexico was up 10.8%.
South America’s results were dramatic as well, with vehicle deliveries surging nearly 20% over year-ago. Increased credit availability and the threatened windup of a government tax incentive drove the largest market of Brazil up 28.3% to more than 420,000 units.
It was Brazil’s best sales month ever, making it the world’s third-largest vehicle market in August, behind China and the U.S.
China’s 9% bounce to 1.5 million vehicle sales, compared with year-ago, was the primary catalyst in the Asia/Pacific region’s 7.4% gain in August. China alone accounted for 23.4% of global deliveries, while the entire region made up 41.8%.
Sales growth slowed to 12.4% in Japan, which saw a 37.5% surge in July, compared with prior-year, as the effects of last year’s tsunami and earthquake lessen. Japan was the world’s No.4 market in August, with 371,000 vehicle deliveries.
Thailand continued to see phenomenal growth as its recovery from extreme flooding last fall plays out. Government incentives for first-time buyers pushed vehicle sales up 63.8% from year-ago, to nearly 130,000 units.
Europe was a different story. Against a dismal backdrop of the ongoing sovereign debt crisis, the region saw vehicle deliveries fall 4.8% in August to 1.2 million units, fewer than the number sold in the U.S. alone.
Europe accounted for just 18.8% of global vehicle sales in the month, the region’s smallest share since at least 2005, and possibly the lowest share in any month excluding the two world wars.
Russia was the No.1 market in Europe in August, with vehicle sales climbing 15.1% to 269,771, surpassing Germany’s 250,313, which was down 4.8% from year-ago. France fell 12.2%, the U.K. was down 2.0% and Italy plunged 22.3%. Many of the region’s smaller markets saw losses as well.
World vehicle sales in the year’s first eight months rose 6.4% from year-ago to 54.5 million units.