Aboost in May auto sales has put the U.S. auto industry on pace to sell 17.8 million new vehicles by the end of 2015, a number it hasn’t reached in 10 years. May auto sales were just shy of 1.6 million vehicles, but according to industry sources, sales of cars and light trucks are currently on pace for a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 17.8 million vehicles, based on the first five months of the year. That is a significant increase from the SAAR of 16.7 million in May 2014.
Analysts say an improving economy and Memorial Day deals helped offset a recent uptick in gasoline prices in some parts of the country.
Steven Szakaly, chief economist for the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), predicts that the pace of sales may slow a bit in 2016, with sales anywhere from flat to a slight 1-2% increase next year.
Even though gas prices have been on the rise since January, small and mid-size utility vehicles continue to lead the industry. The two segments have grown to comprise nearly 25% of new-car sales and are expected to continue climbing. Conversely, small and mid-size car sales are flat and their combined share is down 1.5%. Declines in these segments are predicted to range between 4-5% this month.