DETROIT - Ford's sales for August, including fleet customer deliveries, totaled 176, 323 - up 17 percent compared to last year, according to the automaker's latest monthly sales figures.

Retail sales were driven up 21 percent, partially attributed to the CARS program, the automaker said.

With sales increases over last year for the F-Series (13 percent) and Ranger (57 percent), as well as a 432-percent increase over July sales for the Transit Connect, figures demonstrate "small business owners are feeling more optimistic about the prospects of an economic recovery in the next six to 12 months," stated George Pipas, Ford sales analyst.