BANDON, Ore. — August sales were promising for the still-recovering auto industry, but CNW Research claims in its automotive retail summary that those soaring numbers could be the result of misreported fleet sales.

Industrywide, 1.285 million units were sold in August, up 19.85 percent from a year ago. And in what appears to be an improving economic climate, fleet sales accounted for 7.7 percent of that total, vs. 0.57 percent in fleet orders in August 2011.

“It skews the industry into looking significantly stronger than it actually is,” Art Spinella wrote in his monthly report. He charged that a good portion of fleet orders scheduled for later delivery are often cancelled. In August 2011, 13 percent of fleet orders were cancelled. That percentage climbed to almost 19 percent this past August.

Spinella also charged that sales attributed to August were actually written in the first two days of September, which accounted for nearly 5 percent of total sales. Given these two revelations, Spinella said the industry did not achieve the 20 percent sales increase as originally reported. Instead, he puts the increase at around 15.25 percent.

“Interesting in an election year that state and federal governments gave a solid boost to the auto industry by increasing orders by 80 percent vs. a year ago; a 30-fold increase vs. July,” Spinella wrote.