It looks like 2015 will go down as a year of record car sales in the U.S.A.
The year’s sales are expected to shatter the previous annual record of 17.4 million vehicles, made in 2000. Automakers have continued to benefit from an improving economy, lower gas prices and easy auto financing. Holiday promotions have also drawn shoppers to the car lot.
The final tally will be made once automakers finish reporting their December sales figures on Tuesday, according to Forbes.
The strong year is a far cry from where the auto industry was just a few years ago. ”It’s truly remarkable that the auto industry is finishing off its best year ever just six years after the depths of the Great Recession,” says Jessica Caldwell, director of industry analysis at Edmunds.com.
On Tuesday, the big three automakers — Fiat Chrysler, Ford and General Motors — all posted robust, rising December sales figures. Still, results for both Fiat Chrysler and Ford came in shy of high expectations from analysts.
In the last month of the year, Fiat Chrysler said sales rose 13% to 217,527 vehicles, making the month its best December in its 90-year history. Still, the results came in shy of the 229,517 vehicle sales predicted by Edmunds.com.
Robust demand for Jeeps continued to bolster Fiat Chrysler’s results, with sales surging 42 percent during the month. Dodge sales also rose 6% and Ram sales increased 4 percent, while Chrysler sales dropped 21 percent.
Ford sales jumped 8 percent to 239,242 vehicles in December, helping bring home its best annual sales results in nine years. Edmunds.com analysts were looking for 243,590 vehicles to be sold.
Trucks and utilities continued to drive Ford’s results, rising 13%, while car sales fell 4 percent. The automaker said it sold 85,000 of its popular F-Series during the month, which was a 15 percent rise year-over-year.
General Motors sales rose 6 percent to 290,230 vehicles, above the 287,203 vehicles Edmunds.com analysts had projected. Chevrolet , which is GM’s biggest brand, enjoyed particularly strong sales. Chevy crossover sales jumped 30% and truck sales rose 10 percent.
The industry’s sales growth is expected to continue in 2016, for its seventh consecutive year, as shoppers continue to shop for new rides.
“The U.S. economy continues to expand and the most important factors that drive demand for new vehicles are in place,” said Mustafa Mohatarem, GM’s chief economist. “The single most important pieces are the ongoing gains in employment and the growth in personal income. When you add in lower energy prices, it’s easy to see why consumer spending is strong.”
Shares of all three automakers were in the red Tuesday despite the rising sales figures. Fiat Chrysler edged down 0.1%, Ford slid 1.6 percent and GM fell 2.6 percent. The automakers had mixed results in the stock market last year, too, with shares of Fiat Chrysler soaring 20 percent while GM slid 2 percent and Ford lost 8 percent.