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GM says US sales rise 18 percent in August

 In this Aug. 30, 2011 photo a 2011 Chevrolet Cruze is featured at a car dealership in San Jose, Calif. General Motors� car and truck sales rose 18 pe...
 In this Aug. 30, 2011 photo a 2011 Chevrolet Cruze is displayed at a car dealership in San Jose, Calif. General Motors� car and truck sales rose 18 p...

Auto Sales

In this Aug. 30, 2011 photo a 2011 Chevrolet Cruze is featured at a car dealership in San Jose, Calif. General Motors� car and truck sales rose 18 pe...

Auto Sales

In this Aug. 30, 2011 photo a 2011 Chevrolet Cruze is displayed at a car dealership in San Jose, Calif. General Motors� car and truck sales rose 18 p...

General Motors' sales rose 18 percent last month as fuel-efficient vehicles such as the Chevy Cruze won over U.S. buyers.
But overall industry sales are expected to be weak because consumers are worried about the economy and Hurricane Irene shut showrooms last weekend.
GM said it sold 218,479 cars and trucks in August. One of every 10 cars sold by GM was a Cruze, a new small sedan that has been a top seller for the company since the start of the year. Cruze sales topped 20,000 for the fifth straight month in August and the compact is GM's first strong product in that growing market. In the past it has had little success with small cars.
Buyers also went for the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain small crossovers.
Nissan Motor Co.'s sales rose 19 percent as people snapped up subcompact and midsize cars such as the new four-door Versa and Altima sedan.
Other automakers, though, may not fare as well when they report sales on Thursday. Industry analysts are predicting only a small increase over a lackluster August last year.
Auto sales had been a bright spot for the U.S. economy through May, but began sputtering in the summer as consumer confidence waned and a March earthquake in Japan caused shortages of Honda and Toyota models. Then came Hurricane Irene, which forced many East Coast dealers to close in the month's final weekend. Normally buyers come out on the last weekend, lured by deals and advertising.
Before the storm, J.D. Power was forecasting total sales of 1.07 million for the month. While that's 4 percent higher than August last year, it's still a much slower pace than at the start of 2011.
Still, sales could improve this fall when automakers offer sweeter deals and a wider selection of models.
Cash-back offers, low-interest loans and other deals have been scarce this summer because of the model shortages. But they're expected to return as Honda and Toyota replenish their dealer lots in September and October.
Toyota will also begin selling its new Camry sedan in October, which could lift sales.
The industry remains cautious. The unemployment rate is stuck at 9 percent, food and clothing costs are going up and consumer confidence dropped to its lowest level in more than two years in August.