SANTA MONICA, California — February car sales are on track to reach the highest level for any February since 2000, according to a new Edmunds.com forecast.
"Typically January and February are relatively slow months in terms of car sales," said Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds.com senior analyst. "If that's true for 2016 and we only go up from here, we are looking at a remarkable year."
The projected February sales will be an 18.3 percent increase from January 2016 and a 7.9 percent increase from February 2015.
The 17.7 million seasonally adjusted annual rate would mark the highest in the month of February since 2000.
Edmunds is predicting a double-digit sales increase in February for Ford and Honda, while Volkswagen sales are expected to be down 2 percent. The German automaker continues to grapple with its diesel-emissions crisis.
Gas prices remain near a seven-year low, according to the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report, driving sales of pickups and SUVs.
Trends to watch include whether trucks and SUVs will outsell cars for the 30th straight month and whether Fiat-Chrysler will extend its "DiMaggio-like streak" of year-over-year gains.
Edmunds says: Consumers seem to be undaunted by higher interest rates and the rollercoaster ride in the stock market, fueling a major shopping spree in showrooms this month.