If you bought a new car in 2016, you had plenty of company. New-car sales set a record in 2016, with 17.5 million vehicles sold, according to carmaker sales figures analyzed by Edmunds. That figure is 0.3 percent over the 2015 record.
The month of December also set a best-ever record, with 1.68 million vehicles sold. Showrooms were hopping in the last week of the month, with sales that were 88 percent higher than the other three weeks of the month, according to Edmunds. Generous incentives stimulated the rush, but the lift "still bodes well for sustained demand in 2017," said Edmunds senior analyst Jeremy Acevedo. Edmunds expects that shoppers will buy 17 million new vehicles this year, he said.
Pickup trucks, SUVs and vans accounted for 60 percent of sales in 2016 — a record high. Shoppers flocked to those vehicles "at a staggering pace," Acevedo said. In December alone, carmakers sold more than 1 million pickup trucks, SUVs and vans. Because oil prices are forecast to remain low this year, Edmunds expects those vehicles to continue to attract shoppers.
Luxury brands showed both the greatest sales gains and sales losses in 2016 compared to 2015. Jaguar Land Rover sold nearly 24 percent more vehicles in 2016 than in 2015. BMW, on the other hand, experienced a nearly 10 percent dip in 2016 sales compared to 2015.
Although car sales will be strong in 2017, Edmunds expects the auto industry's seven-year growth streak to finally come to an end this year.
"We forecast that 17.2 million new cars will be sold in 2017 — not quite the record set in the past two years, but still very strong," Acevedo said.
Read more about December car sales and the big year that was 2016.