2016 sales top 2015 record, creating a 7-year sales streak

2016 sales top 2015 record, creating a 7-year sales streak

The U.S. auto industry did what seemed impossible to many, as 2016 sales beat the 2015 record to reach 17.55 million new vehicles sold. Sales were helped by easy credit and a steadily improving economy. But the record came in part thanks to hefty incentives 25 percent higher in fourth-quarter 2016 than a year earlier, according to the New York Times. Observers agree that sales are unlikely to keep rising this year, with pent-up demand finally sated.

Automakers continued to express optimism. –Key economic indicators, especially consumer confidence, continue to reflect optimism about the U.S. economy and strong consumer demand continues to drive a very healthy U.S. auto industry,” said Mustafa Mohatarem, General Motorsê chief economist. –We believe the U.S. auto industry remains well-positioned for sales to continue at or near record levels in 2017.”

Mohataremês positive attitude is understandable. GMês December sales jumped 10 percent from a year earlier. The companyês retail sales edged up 2 percent for the year, and it gained half a point of market share. Fordês sales inched up 0.3 percent in December, but Fiat Chrysler plunged 10 percent. Toyota reported 2 percent higher sales for the month, and Nissan sales jumped nearly 10 percent.

Passenger car sales kept falling in 2016, at a greater rate than utility and light truck sales were rising. Because of the shift to more expensive utilities and light trucks, the estimated average transaction price reached a record high of $35,309 in December, according to Kelley Blue Book.

But –incentives have grown similarly to counterbalance the increased prices,” said Kelley Blue Book analyst Tim Fleming. –Should the sales mix of cars to SUVs reach a stable point in the near future, actual transaction price growth could match or fall just short of inflation.”

The top 10 best-selling vehicles nationwide in 2016: Ford F-series at No. 1 (once again), followed by the Chevrolet Silverado, Ram pickup, Toyota Camry, Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Honda Accord and Nissan Rogue. Note that the top three are all from Detroit manufacturers and are all trucks.

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