Ford is working through shortages of its popular Fusion... Ford is working through shortages of its popular Fusion sedan (Ford).
If there is nervousness about Congress shutting the government down rather than raising the debt ceiling or the U.S. getting into a ground war in Syria, consumer wariness is not evident in auto sales, which continued to be a big driver of economic recovery in August and on the year as a whole.

The auto industry sold new cars and trucks at annualized rate of 16.1 million in August, the best showing since 2007 and 16-percent higher than a year ago. The only downside for consumers is that demand is running so high that prices are up and incentives are down.

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It's the old supply-and-demand curve. Consumers, feeling flush from stock market gains and looking at their old cars, are getting out to showrooms in droves before borrowing rates increase as they are expected to by the end of the year. According to a report by TrueCar.com, the average transaction price –- what consumers pay factoring in both incentives and options –- surged 3.2-percent year-over-year to $31,252. Twenty years ago, any car costing more than $30,000 was considered a luxury car. Now, that kind of money just buys "average."

News was good nearly across the board and for nearly every automaker. The luxury segment experienced some of the biggest jumps: BMW brand vehicles gained 35-percent, while Audi, Maserati, Porsche, Jaguar, Land Rover and Lexus all posted sales increases of 20-percent or better during August. Honda was up 27-percent, while Toyota rose 23-percent and Nissan jumped 22-percent. Subaru was up a lusty 45-percent.

Detroit automakers are enjoying the economic surge, too. GM was up 15-percent, while Chrysler and Ford each gained 12-percent. Ford would have posted even higher sales, but is working through shortages of its popular Fusion sedan. At GM, sales advanced 38-percent at Cadillac, 37-percent at Buick, 14-percent at GMC and 10-percent at Chevrolet.

"We have a lot of momentum and we feel good about the direction of the U.S. economy," said Kurt McNeil, head of U.S. sales operations for GM.

GM, Ford and Chrysler are all seeing big profits from truck sales this year, which are up along with housing starts and home values. Pickup trucks are by far the domestic companies' most profitable vehicles. Ford recently added a third shift at a key truck plant to keep up with the surge in demand. And it hired 1,400 new workers at its Flat Rock, Mich., assembly plant to build more Fusions.

Read about the Ford Fusion, AOL Autos 2012 Car of The Year, here.

Ford, GM, Toyota and Nissan shares, as well as shares of several auto parts makers, were trading well ahead of the broad market today on the news.


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