Sept. 04--Fort Lauderdale-based retail giant AutoNation on Thursday reported its best August for new vehicle sales since 2002.
The country's largest dealership chain said it sold 32,660 new vehicles for the month, up 7 percent from a year ago.
That's faster than the 5 percent gain in retail auto sales nationwide in August, according to researcher AutoData.
Analysts say AutoNation has been outpacing the market based on its management savvy, the strength of its brand name now used on stores nationwide and the depth of its offering in the hot segment of premium luxury vehicles such as Mercedes and Audi brands.
In August, AutoNation sold 10,053 new vehicles in its domestic division, up 8 percent; 16,931 in imports, up 5 percent; and 5,676 in premium luxury, up a roaring 11 percent from a year ago.
Geographically, sales rose by 7 percent in both Florida and California, said Mike Jackson, chief executive of the chain that has more than 270 vehicle franchises in 15 states.
Auto sales have been a bright spot in the U.S. economy for years and are poised to reach a post-recession high in 2014. The number of new vehicles sold nationwide is forecast to top 16 million this year, up from 15.6 million last year and a dismal 10.4 million vehicles in 2009 at the depths of the recession.
AutoNation aims to boost its edge in the marketplace partly by developing technology to simplify vehicle sales online and appeal more to younger buyers in the millennial generation.
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