Major automakers and analysts put the final tally slightly above 2015's record 17.5 million vehicles sold as stronger-than-expected December sales figures rolled in yesterday.
The industry sold 1.69 million vehicles during the month of December, an increase of about 3 percent from the same period a year earlier, according to the research firm Autodata.
It all adds up to a great industry environment for consumers, who are able to get good deals on many vehicles, as well as most manufacturers, said Alec Gutierrez, senior market analyst for Kelley Blue Book.
According to Mustafa Mohatarem, General Motors' chief economist, "key economic indicators, especially consumer confidence, continue to reflect optimism about the US economy, and strong customer demand continues to drive a very healthy USA auto industry" throughout previous year. "But abysmal auto sales prevented the brand from going further". It's also cutting jobs at the Lansing, Mich., Grand River plant where it makes the Chevy Camaro and the Cadillac ATS and CTS. "Thanks to strong customer demand for F-Series, Transit and an all-new lineup of heavy trucks, Ford capped 2016 as America's best-selling truck brand". USA auto sales in December came in at a seasonally adjusted pace of 18.43 million, the highest since Jul 2005 and well above estimates for about 17.7 million.
The strong December was led by big gains at GM, which rose 10 percent, Nissan, advancing 9.7 percent and Honda, which posted a 6.4 percent gain.
Toyota Motor's US sales declined 2% for the year to 2.45 million units and increased 2% to 243,229 for December.
December 2016 had 27 sales days compared to 28 in December 2015.
Out of the top eight selling brands, majority ended 2016 on a positive note. However, business was expected to sag slightly (about 2 percent) year-to-year for the month, especially since there was one fewer sales day.
Ford U.S. truck sales, including vans, pickups and heavy trucks, totaled 1,077,006 vehicles in 2016, a 7 percent increase over 2015. Its Dodge brand fell by 4 percent and its flagship brands each declined by more than 20 percent.