Automakers’ August sales were buoyed by SUVs, crossovers

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Ford Motor reported a nearly 4.1 percent rise in U.S. auto sales in , helped by higher demand for its sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks.

The No. 2 U.S. automaker said on Tuesday it sold 218,504 vehicles in August, compared with 209,897, a year earlier when Hurricanes Harvey and Irma depressed .

Sales of Ford brand grew 20.1 percent to 78,809 vehicles. Pickup truck sales rose 5.7 percent. Ford said earlier this year it would gradually cease production of most passenger cars in the United States.

U.S. consumers have been shifting away from traditional passenger cars for larger, more comfortable SUVs and pickup trucks, which are also more profitable for .

Last year, U.S. auto sales dropped 2 percent from a record high of 17.55 million in 2016.

Rival Toyota earlier reported a 2 percent fall in U.S. auto sales, hurt by a slump in demand for its passenger cars, although it said SUV sales rose 8.9 percent.

The No.3 U.S. automaker said it sold 223,055 vehicles in August, compared with 227,625, a year earlier.

Fiat-Chrysler sales were up 10 percent year-over-year, and up 5.1 percent year-to-date, boosted by the redesigned Jeep Wrangler.

A poll of economists by Reuters showed expectations of a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 16.8 million vehicles for the U.S. auto industry in August.

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