U.S. Auto Sales: Best August for Chrysler since Bankruptcy image

Chrysler’s U.S. sales grew 31% in August, leading year-over-year improvements from all the Detroit Three, as economic worries and dealership closures during Hurricane Irene likely kept overall industry sales from recovering to levels from the first half of the year.

More importantly, Chrysler and GM said their sales were driven by more lucrative retail purchases rather than fleet sales. Chrysler’s sales to individual customers at dealerships rose 42%.

The Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram Truck and FIAT brands all posted sales increases in August. Jeep brand sales were up 58 percent as all five Jeep models posted year over year sales gains. The Jeep brand’s increase was the largest percentage increase of all the brands. The new 2011 Jeep Compass did its part by posting its fifth-consecutive monthly sales record this year.

Dodge volumes grew 18 percent over last August, ringing in at 41,817 deliveries. Impressive, considering sales of two of its volume passenger car offerings — the Caliber and Charger — dropped 40 and 37 percent, respectively. Dodge’s sales were powered largely by the Grand Caravan, Avenger, and Journey.

The FIAT brand recorded the largest monthly sales volume since the 2012 Fiat 500 went on sale in March.