U.S. auto industry speeds toward record sales

The U.S. automotive industry is approaching a record year for sales.

The Wall Street Journal reported that 1.46 million passenger vehicles were sold in October 2015, a 13.6 percent growth in sales from October 2014.

The annualized sales pace was more than 18 million for the second month in a row, according to the Wall Street Journal. Analysts believe this finding is evidence that the U.S. auto industry will post a record sales year.

The previous sales record was 17.3 million vehicles sold in 2000, the source reported.

General Motors had the biggest increase in sales, selling 262,993 cars and registering 15.9 percent growth since the previous year. Sales at rose 13.4 percent at Ford, and Toyota had 13 percent growth. Sales at Fiat Chrysler grew 14.7 percent.

A main driver of the rising sales was high demand for trucks and SUVs, according to The Detroit News. The three top-selling vehicles in October were pickups, with truck sales growing 7.3 percent. SUV sales grew 28.4 percent.

The Wall Street Journal attributed the major growth to higher spending on sales incentives, which was estimated to be at an average of $3,104 per vehicle in October, 14 percent higher than last year's incentive spending.

Lower interest rates and gasoline prices and a greater number of rebates and discounts were also cited by the Wall Street Journal as reasons for the growth.

"We are seeing October 2015 sales set new records, many breaking records set in October 2001 but what a far different time," said AutoTrader.com senior analyst Michelle Krebs in an interview with The Detroit News. "Today, the country, the economy and the auto industry are in a far better place."

Industry analysts believe that with current consumer confidence, higher-value incentives and favorable economic conditions, the auto industry will post a record sales year for 2015.