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Regional new car sales rise 10% in August, led by Ford; Toyota, rebuilding inventory, places 2nd

Local new car sales in August rose 10 percent from a year ago, keeping the region's total ahead of last year's pace for the first eight months.

Monthly sales were 4,919, the second-best total of the year, according to Niagara Frontier Automobile Dealers Association data.

Among the brands disclosing their numbers, Ford led with 1,106 units sold, up 22 percent from a year ago, the association said. (Chevrolet does not disclose its monthly figures.)

Through August, the region's sales total was 34,405 units, 4.3 percent ahead of the same eight-month period in 2010, the association said.

Toyota was No. 2 in reported sales, with 584 units, but down 32 percent from a year ago. The Japanese automaker is rebuilding its inventory following the March earthquake and tsunami, and says its North American manufacturing is back to full production.

Nissan locally reported a 52 percent increase from a year ago, to 480 units, while Honda's total slipped 24 percent.

Still, the trend among the reported sales leaders was mostly positive, with 10 of the top 15 brands recording increases from a year ago.

Paul Stasiak, president of the association, said vehicle availability has improved for manufacturers hurt by disruptions caused by the earthquake and tsunami, and he expects September results to be favorable.

Stasiak said he does not feel the Buffalo new car market has been impacted by the uncertain economy as it has in some places.

Nationally, Autodata Corp. reported that U.S. sales rose 7.5 percent from a year ago in August. Auto sales in August 2010 were unusually weak, amid a tough economic climate.

Many analysts and industry observers at the start of this year expected full-year U.S. sales to reach 13 million units or even higher, up from 11.6 million units in 2010. But some have revised their predictions downward.