Auto sales, believed to have dropped in 2017, remain strong

By DEE-ANN DURBIN, AP Auto Writer

DETROIT (AP) — The U.S. auto industry’s historic growth streak may be ending, but demand for new cars and trucks remains healthy as the new year begins.

U.S. sales of new vehicles are expected to fall 2 percent to 17.1 million in 2017, according to Kelley Blue Book. That would be the first year-over-year decline since 2009, ending an unprecedented seven-year expansion.

General Motors and Ford both reported a 1 percent decline in sales last year compared with 2016. Automakers are releasing monthly and annual sales numbers Wednesday.

While sales are likely to fall short of 2016’s record of 17.55 million, 2017 is still expected to be the fourth-best sales year in U.S. history. Low unemployment and rising consumer confidence are expected to boost demand this year.