U.S. auto sales surged in September to their highest level in more than a decade. Total vehicle sales for the month increased 15.8% from 1.25 million cars and light trucks in September 2014 to 1.44 million vehicles this September, according to Autodata Corp. Sales are up 5%, year-to-date in 2015, compared to the same time period last year. The seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) in September was 18.17 million, up from 16.52 million a year ago. That is the highest SAAR since the industry hit 20.6 million in July 2005.
Various factors are driving the increase in sales: low gasoline prices, low interest rates, end-of-model-year deals, housing starts, consumer confidence and average age of vehicles on the road. The steady pace of high sales in recent months reflects the strength of U.S. consumer demand and the healthy conditions auto manufacturers have created in the wake of the Great Recession. Lower gas prices, in particular, are impacting truck sales, which rose 24% last month and made up 58% of total sales. Just two years ago, trucks accounted for 50% of the market.