http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/357911

Car sales see gains in August, fueled by leases

Posted Sep 8, 2013 by Dusty Wright
In the latest sign that the U.S. economy is improving, car manufacturers sold 1.5 million vehicles during the month of August, a figure that represents a 17 percent gain over the same month in 2012.
Front quarter view of the 2014 Sierra GM Truck
Front quarter view of the 2014 Sierra GM Truck
GM Media Release Photos
The seasonally adjusted annual industry sales rate is now at a post-recession high of 16.1 million, up from 14.5 million a year ago.
The larger volume of sales has been driven primarily through credit financing provided by dealerships, lenders, and financial institutions. In particular, leases are helping to drive revenue growth for the auto industry.
“Attractive low lease payments have proven very effective at getting new-car buyers back into the market,” said Jessica Caldwell, a senior analyst at Edmunds.com. This year, leases have accounted for 26 percent of new vehicle purchases. Prior to the recession, leases typically accounted for 16 to 20 percent of car purchases.
General Motors’ August sales rose 14.7 percent, which represents the automaker’s strongest month since September 2008. Ford Motor Company saw a 12 percent rise during the same period while Chrysler Group saw an increase of 11.5 percent.
An Aug. 2013 report by Experian Automotive shows that fewer U.S. vehicles were repossessed for non-payment of loans in the second quarter, 0.36 percent, than in any quarter since 2006. Thus, more U.S. consumers are making timely payments on their vehicles.
Second quarter 30-day delinquencies on loan payments fell to 2.4 percent from 2.5 percent from a year earlier. Internet tools such as a car recommendation tool and vehicle calculator are serving to inform and remind consumers of their financial responsibilities when making auto-related decisions.
Dealerships throughout the United States have seen more buyer interest in leases. The trend could signal a shift in consumer preference towards vehicles that are covered by warranty in order to avoid costly maintenance and repair costs. More U.S. consumers may also be inclined towards driving newer cars.
The average monthly lease payment was $408, down from $416 last year, according to Experian Automotive.