Volkswagen, Honda and Toyota Post Big Gains

If you want evidence that the economy is on the mend, look no further than the string of positive monthly sales reports coming from the auto industry this year. August continues the trend with the vast majority of brands and companies reporting improved sales numbers compared to the same month last year, Volkswagen (+62.54 percent), Honda (+57.88 percent) and Toyota (+47.5 percent) leading the way for major manufacturers.

Honda and Toyota's big gains are easy to explain. Just repeat the line we've been using all summer about these two Japanese giants enjoying the fruits of restored production capacity following last year's onslaught of natural disasters in their home region. Volkswagen's big jump, however, is harder to explain, and looks to be consolidated mostly in the Passat model line where sales jumped from just 314 last August (before the midsize sedan was redesigned) to 10,090 last month. Smaller sales gains from the Golf, Jetta, Beetle, Tiguan and Touareg also contributed.

Another individual model that jumped out at us while compiling the numbers is the Ford Escape. The all-new 2013 Escape is a big departure in both style and content compared to the last generation, which sold very well even into its waning months. We've been curious to know if consumers would embrace the new Escape's slicker shape and higher price. The answer is a resounding yes based on last month's sales of the new model, which totaled 28,188 units, a 36.8-percent improvement compared to last August and a number high enough to make the new Escape one of the industry's best selling models overall last month.

Check out how the entire auto industry did in the monthly sales chart below, and visit our By the Numbers section to see all past months.

*Brands and companies are displayed in descending order according to their percentage change in volume sales. There were 27 selling days in August 2012 versus 26 selling days in August 2011, so the change in monthly sales volume will be different than the change in average daily sales rate (DSR) for each brand/company. Also, brands are combined and reported as companies only if their sales figures are released jointly.

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