The best year ever for U.S. auto sales: what fueled the market

First of all we’d like to state the obvious: Gasoline prices were low. Although OPEC’s September announcement to restrict oil production hiked pump prices during the final quarter, the nationwide average price for regular has yet to top $2.40 per gallon. Back in February 2016, retail prices fell as low as $1.72. Low interest rates continued to keep financing and leasing attractive.

Through the third quarter of 2016, 86 percent of all new-car buyers financed in some capacity, at average rates of 2.6 percent and 3.6 percent for the two top credit tiers, and the national average was 4.7 percent. New-car loans averaged just over $30,000, financed over 68 months, both on par with 2015. Leasing represented nearly 30 percent of all retail sales (up from 27 percent in 2015) as average monthly payments dropped $90 compared with the third quarter of 2015. Read more

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