Most import automakers have had remarkably good sales in August so far, according to Edmunds.com.

Its analysts report that Honda's US market share was over 9.5% in the first two weeks of the month, compared with 8% in July. Honda's highest monthly market share was 9.1%, achieved in August 2003.

Toyota's USmarket share exceeded 15% in the first two weeks of August after taking 12% in July. Toyota's highest monthly market share was 14.0%, achieved in April of this year.

Nissan is also having a successful August so far, increasing its market share from 6% in July to 6.5% in the first two weeks of the month. Nissan's highest market share was 7.2%, achieved in January this year.

Collectively, European brands reached nearly 7% in the first half of August. This is a high point for the group so far in 2005. In July, European market share was 5.8%.

The domestic automakers, on the other hand, did not have particularly strong sales in the first half of the month. Chrysler achieved 13% in the first two weeks of August, just as it did in the entire month of July. Ford suffered a slight decline, slipping from nearly 20% in July to around 19% in the first half of August.

"We can expect relative increases in the market share for both Ford and Chrysler in the later part of the month, especially if they announce that they will not extend the employee plan promotions beyond the Labour Day deadline," said Edmunds' senior analyst Jesse Toprak.

He noted that in the first half of August, General Motors' market share fell below 25% - a sharp contrast to July, when it took 29%.

"GM's success earlier this summer has really taken its toll on inventory levels for several models, limiting their ability to have another terrific month," added Toprak. "And there appears to be relatively little momentum left in GM's employee discount incentive programme now that it is in its third month."

Edmunds expects average prices will rise in August. The average sticker price in July 2005 reached a record high of more than $US31,000 (up $1,500 compared to a year ago), thanks mainly to the employee purchase price promotions, which have enabled consumers to purchase more expensive vehicles and additional optional equipment.

Average transaction price, on the other hand, was $26,500 in July, up $850 compared to July 2004.