Lexington, Ky. – The U.S. auto industry set a sales record in 2015 as solid December gains by the biggest automakers pushed the annual tally above the 17,402,486 mark set in 2000, according to Automotive News.
Automakers tallied nearly 17.5 million light-vehicle sales last year, an increase of 5.7 percent over 2014. The December increase of 8.9 percent was one of the year’s strongest, while the seasonally adjusted annual sales rate came in at 17.3 million, the lowest since June.
Among the largest automakers, Nissan Motor Co. was the biggest gainer, with a 19 percent jump from December 2014 levels. FCA US climbed 13 percent. Volume rose 11 percent at Toyota Motor Corp. and 10 percent at Honda Motor Co. Ford Motor Co. volume increased 8.3 percent while General Motors deliveries rose 5.7 percent.
Kentucky is the third largest auto-producing state in the United States, with Toyota, Ford and GM manufacturing facilities.
Toyota Division posted record December 2015 sales of 196,970 units, up 12.4 percent. For the year, Toyota Division sales of 2,154,712 were up 4.5 percent.
“2015 was a standout year for the auto industry,” said Bill Fay, group vice president and general manager for the Toyota division. “Best-ever light truck sales helped the Toyota division earn the retail sales crown for the fourth consecutive year.”
Lexus reported all-time, any-month record sales in December of 41,380 units, a 3.8 percent increase. For the year, Lexus sales of 344,601 units were up 10.7 percent.
“December closed out an all-time, best-ever year with sales we couldn’t have predicted,” said Jeff Bracken, group vice president and general manager for the Lexus division. “Lexus’ SUV sales momentum and the strength of our product lineup has us well positioned for 2016.”
U.S. sales continue to be driven by low gasoline prices, pent-up demand, widespread credit availability, an increase in leasing and employment gains.
Trucks, SUVs and crossovers continued to set the pace, jumping 19 percent in December and 13 percent in 2015. Car demand remains weak, falling 3.8 percent last month and 2.3 percent for the year.