Automotive analysts report that February 2015 auto sales were the best in the last 13 years. Even as frequent snowstorms and cold temperatures slowed demand throughout much of the Northeast. Analysts from LMC Automotive and Kelley Blue Book estimate that February sales were 8-9% higher than the same period last year and February was also the 12th consecutive month of year-over-year gains for the industry. The seasonally adjusted, annualized selling rate (SAAR) was 16.6 million to 16.7 million, which is roughly the same as January’s SAAR.LMC analysts report that the strength of auto sales during the first two months of 2015 is a key factor in keeping the industry on target to surpass annual vehicle sales of 17 million units for the first time since 2001. An economy that is continuing to improve, unemployment continuing to decline, a healthy stock market, lower gas prices and new products finding their way into showrooms are other factors fueling optimism.Leasing is also a big reason sales are continuing to rise. J.D. Power reported that leasing in the first 11 days of February accounted for a record 27.4% of retail sales, as strong residual values continue to make lease deals attractive for many shoppers.LMC said compact utility vehicles were the industry’s biggest retail-sales segment for a fifth straight month, followed by compact cars, midsize utilities and midsize cars. Including fleet, Kelley Blue Book projects that full-size pickups, compact utilities and midsize utilities each posted double-digit gains compared to February 2014.