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The 2018 VW Atlas R-Line is photographed on Raccoon Mountain Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018, in Marion County, Tennessee. The vehicle is produced at the Volkswagen Chattanooga Assembly Plant.

This story was updated Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019, at 8:15 p.m. with more information.

Volkswagen of America on Thursday reported July sales rose 2.2% over the same month a year ago as SUVs, including the Chattanooga-made Atlas, continued their upward surge.

Sales of the Atlas seven-seater climbed 18% last month to 7,688 vehicles. For the year, Altas is up 31 percent over the same period in 2018, according to the German automaker with an assembly plant in Chattanooga.

But the Passat midsize sedan, also made in Chattanooga, slumped to just 628 units sold last month, down 84%, the company reported.

Sales of the Jetta compact sedan soared to 8,086 in July, up 17%, while the Tiguan compact SUV hit 8,963 units, up 13%.

HAMILTON COUNTY SALES

New vehicles registered in Hamilton County jumped 13.2 percent in July over the same month last year.

July 2019 - 1,180

July 2018 - 1,043

Source: Hamilton County Clerk’s Office

"We have good momentum this summer with our fresh SUV lineup," said Derrick Hatami, VW of America's executive vice president of sales, marketing and after sales. "We expect to keep that momentum into the fall as more buyers embrace the Atlas and Tiguan."

Meanwhile, Japanese automaker Nissan, which has its U.S. headquarters outside Nashville, reported that July sales of 98,880 units fell 9.1% compared to the same month in the prior year.

Nissan division sales fell 8.9%, while Infiniti sales dropped 11.2%, according to the automaker that also has a plant in Smyrna, Tennessee.

Toyota Motor North America reported July sales of 209,204 vehicles, up 0.2%.

The Toyota division posted July sales of 184,179 units, up 0.4%. Lexus reported sales of 25,025 vehicles, down 1.5%.

Honda reported U.S. sales which were 1.9% higher in July than a year ago to 141,296 units.

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In this 2016 staff file photo, a Passat is parked at the main entrance to the Volkswagen manufacturing plant in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Truck and SUV sales for the Japanese automaker rose 2.1% in the month.

The Detroit 3 automakers report only quarterly sales numbers.

Charlie Chesbrough, senior economist at Cox Automotive, said July sales came in at a slightly slower pace than the year-to-date average.

"Clearly, the market remains on solid ground and buyers are still in the new-car market even with higher prices," he said.

Chesbrough said that while the Fed's interest rate cut will help contain borrowing costs, he does not think the impact in car sales will be much.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.

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