It's already August and the industry isn't expecting to see much more than 10 million sales, but Ford today announced it is up 2% overall and 9% in retail versus a year ago thanks in part to the government's CARS (aka 'cash for clunkers') program. Could this turnaround be the beginning of the industry's as a whole?

The early indicators say yes, but it will remain for the official sales reports to emerge for confirmation. As for Ford, the numbers look solid - for the most part.

Retail sales are up a huge 9% over August of 2008, and marks the first year-on-year sales gain since November 2007 for the company. Ford credits the CARS program and its new range of more fuel-efficient vehicles for the jump.

Fleet sales brought the overall figure down to a rise of just 2% over November 2007, however - a reflection of the nearly 40% drop in volume from previous years' industry totals to a predicted 10 million or so for 2009. That gives perspective to the rise - it's an important change, but the overall picture is still a smaller one.

Leading the way within the company's sales ranks are the Ford Fusion (up 66%), Ford Escape (up 94%), Mercury Milan (up 60%) and Mercury Mariner (up 71%). Not surprisingly, Ford's new hybrid technology has spurred sales rises of 323% for the gas-electric vehicles.

Kenz Czubay, Ford's U.S. VP of marketing, sales and service had this to say of the slump-breaking month: “We had another strong month in progress before the ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program started.

“Our products, our dealers and our advance preparation enabled us to leverage the program and drive traffic and sales to another level,” he added. “In addition, we achieved a sales increase even though we decreased incentive spending in an increasingly competitive environment.”

July also saw the first customer deliveries of the new 2010 Ford Taurus and Transit Connect.

Now the waiting for the rest of the industry's reports begins, and with it hope for the future of sales figures and profitability.