And for 2015?
Will auto sales continue to be the gift that keeps on giving, especially now that the rest of the economy seems to be catching up? Some economists are optimistic about 2015; others say, not so fast.
Several have forecast sales of 17 million or more, with crossovers, SUVs and trucks leading the way. At least for the first half of the year, low gas prices should continue to boost sales. But other analysts, such as longtime industry observer Jesse Snyder of Automotive News, point out that a six-year streak of sales gains would be the first since the 1920s.
Art Spinella of CNW Research predicts 17.1 million sales this year, with the caveat that automakers must boost incentives even more than they did in 2014. Currently, Spinella said, more than 95 percent of all models offered have some significant dealer or consumer enticement. That is especially the case with leases. Incentives are 6 percent higher than a year ago, according to TrueCar.
CNW also predicts that transaction prices will drop this year, to 81 percent of MSRP from the current 84 percent.
Wall Street Journal writer Spencer Jakab sounds two other notes of cautions: Retail lending rates are favorable, but the Federal Reserve will likely raise borrowing costs in 2015. More broadly, the amount that Americans drive is 9 percent lower than during the housing boom, adjusted for population. Many in the industry are waiting anxiously to see if that will be a long-term trend.Download Bulletin PDF