SANTA MONICA, California — U.S. vehicle sales are on pace to have one of their best years in history, as consumer demand for new cars and trucks in July topped 1.5 million, according to a new Edmunds.com analysis.
That translates to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) of 17.5 million, the fourth time this year that monthly sales have exceeded the 17 million mark.
"It was another fantastic month for the auto industry," said Jessica Caldwell, executive director of strategic analytics for Edmunds.com. "The last time we saw four months with a 17M-plus SAAR in the first seven months of the year was in 2000 when new car sales hit their all-time peak."
Caldwell and her analytics team observed: "if the sales momentum continues, 2015 will be a benchmark sales year for the auto industry."
Vehicles spent an average of 62 days on dealer lots before selling in July, the lowest monthly average in four years. Fewer days to turn indicates continued strong demand, particularly for trucks and SUVs.
The light-truck segment, including SUVs, accounted for 56 percent of sales in July, compared with 52 percent a year ago.
Average new vehicle loan rates continued to fall, to 4.38 percent in July, while average loan length grew to more than 68 months, giving shoppers more purchasing power. Among those who financed, 13 percent locked in zero-percent interest rates, the highest level of the year.
Edmunds says: Car shoppers are fueling a major resurgence in the U.S. auto industry, which is a big boost to the entire economy.