All-New 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor

Car sales is a decent indicator of economic health, and things are looking rosy in the United States, as confirmed by the recent rate hike by the US Federal Reserve, the first increase in a decade. Now, data has emerged to show that 2015 was the best year ever for vehicle sales in the US.

According to Autodata Corp, US sales hit 17.47 million units in 2015, breaking the previous record of 17.41 million in 2000. The company cites low fuel prices, easy credit and moderate economic growth for the boom.

The Reuters report also shared figures from WardsAuto, which provides data used by the U.S. government for economic analysis. The latter’s 2015 sales figure is a record 17.39 million, breaking the 2000 mark of 17.35 million. It was a bumper year, no matter which set of figures you follow.

Experts are predicting another record breaking year. “The US economy continues to expand and the most important factors that drive demand for new vehicles are in place, so we expect to see a second consecutive year of record industry sales in 2016,” said Mustafa Mohatarem, chief economist for General Motors. He added that the most important factors are employment and growth in personal income, which will remain strong this year.

Mark Wakefield, leader of the auto practice at AlixPartners, predicted that sales will peak this year at 17.75 million vehicles, before an annual decline to 15.2 million in 2019. He said that a century of data, along with factors such as a glut of quality used vehicles, pointed to a moderate downturn that will begin to be felt in 2017.

We’re seeing a strong recovery from 2009, when auto sales hit the lowest level since World War Two, adjusted for population, at 10.4 million vehicles. The trend is a shift from cars to SUVs, crossovers and trucks, encouraged by low fuel prices and better fuel economy for larger vehicles. At GM, car sales fell 14.2% while sales of SUVs and trucks rose 16.3%.

Last week, it was revealed that the Ford F-Series, led by the F-150 truck, has extended two streaks – 39 years as the best-selling truck in the USA and 34 years as the best-selling vehicle of any kind. GM’s rival truck, the Chevrolet Silverado, and the Ram pickup completed the 2015 sales podium.

Toyota takes the two next places with the Camry and Corolla, followed by three Hondas (Accord, CR-V, ninth-gen Civic) and the Nissan Altima a.k.a. Teana. The Toyota RAV4 completes the top-10 best sellers chart, which you can see in full here.

2015 Top-10 best-selling vehicles in the US

1. Ford F-Series – 780,354
2. Chevrolet Silverado – 600,544
3. Ram Pickup – 451,116
4. Toyota Camry – 429,355
5. Toyota Corolla – 363,332
6. Honda Accord – 355,557
7. Honda CR-V – 345,647
8. Honda Civic – 335,384
9. Nissan Altima – 333,398
10. Toyota RAV4 – 315,412