Fort Lauderdale-based AutoNation, the country’s largest auto retailer, reported its best August for new vehicle sales in a decade Thursday.
The company sold 32 percent more new vehicles this August than during the same month last year, marking its strongest August performance since 2003, the company said.
Its same-store sales — not including new ones opened or acquired in the past year — rose 26 percent for the month, the company said.
AutoNation sold 30,582 new vehicles during the month, including 9,308 for its domestic division, up 34 percent; 16,173 for imports, up 29 percent; and 5,101 for its premium luxury division, up 37 percent.
That included sales during Labor Day weekend, which last year fell in September.
Sales at AutoNation stores were especially high in California, up 37 percent, and Florida, up 26 percent, the company said.
U.S. buyers are snapping up more new cars for several reasons, experts say, including pent-up demand from the recession, widely available and low-cost auto financing, plus new models with better fuel efficiency.
U.S. gasoline consumption is down from its 2007 peak to 2004 levels, partly because autos are more fuel-efficient. The average fuel efficiency has increased to 24.5 miles per gallon this summer from just below 23 mpg in 2009, AutoNation said, citing data from WardsAuto, an industry researcher.
A reviving U.S. economy also is spurring vehicle sales. Gains in the energy and housing industries are leading to an increase in truck sales, experts say.
AutoNation said it sold its 9 millionth vehicle in August. The company also completed its new branding effort, placing the AutoNation name on stores coast-to-coast in its domestic and import divisions.