Strong December finishes a stellar sales year

Strong December finishes a stellar sales year

Better-than-expected December sales helped the industry bring in the most successful year since 2006. Results exceeded expectations as lower gas prices, generous automaker incentives, and returning consumer confidence brought the monthês sales up 11 percent from a year ago.

General Motors, despite its massive recalls, sold more cars than any other automaker in 2014, as its sales rose 19 percent. –Consumers felt good about the direction of the economy, interest rates and fuel prices were low, and our dealers did a great job introducing customers to our incredible range of new and redesigned vehicles,” said Kurt McNeil, GM vice president of U.S. sales operations.

Fiat/Chrysler came out swinging as sales jumped 20 percent in its best December since 2004. Though Ford sales were up only 1 percent, the company had its best December since 2005 and was the best-selling brand for the fifth year running. Fordês F-150 was the yearês best-selling truck (38th year running) and the Toyota Camry the best-selling car (13th straight year).

Crossover and smaller SUVs have done well for some time, and low gas prices helped extend the popularity to full-size SUVs and trucks. May 2014 marked the first time that U.S. retail registrations of CUVs and SUVs exceeded cars, according to IHS Automotive.

Luxury cars, too sold well in December, as luxury sales overall increased 15 percent. BMW was the top-selling luxury automaker.

Asian brands outsold Detroit and European makes combined. Honda, Acura, Nissan and Toyota all saw sales gains.

Even better news for dealers, average transaction prices were up 2.5 percent from December 2013, to $34,367, the highest on record, according to Kelley Blue Book. Hyundai-Kia saw the biggest percentage gain of the major manufacturers at 5.5 percent.

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