This is turning into an impressive year for the auto industry, with the latest market analysis from Kelley Blue Book showing sales in the first half of 2014 totaling 8.14 million - a 4.2-percent bump from last year - and volume in the last quarter hitting 4.41 million, making it the strongest Q2 showing since 2006. KBB anticipates the trend will continue on through the rest of the year and result in a final tally of some 16.3 million units, a 4.9-percent rise over 2013.

Also: The Class of 2015 -- New Vehicles Ready to Roll senior analyst Alec Gutierrez notes that while many segments are up, it's the luxury arena that's seen the greatest gains. "Luxury vehicles are responsible for nearly a quarter of the industry's growth in 2014," he said. Other hot segments include small and mid-size SUV/crossovers to the detriment of compact and mid-size car sales. Here, too, buyers are showing a marked preference for premium models. "In addition to increasing small SUV sales, luxury utility sales also are on the rise climbing 14 percent this year, helping improve overall luxury sales by 8.6 percent," Gutierrez notes. 

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When it comes to manufacturers, Chrysler Group and Nissan will be the big winners for July. Sales of the former are expected to grow by 20 percent on the strength of Jeep and Ram as well as the new Chrysler 200, while Nissan is projected to see a 14.6 percent jump during that period. "Nissan has increased sales of its three biggest sellers, Altima, Rogue and Sentra, by 18 percent," Gutierrez said. "This is especially impressive considering overall industry sales of compact and mid-size cars have slowed this year."  


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