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U.S. auto sales expected to hit an all-time high in 2015

This Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015, photo, shows a row of new 2015 Ford Fusions on the sales lot at Butler County Ford in Butler, Pa. Automakers report December and full-year sales Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
This Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015, photo, shows a row of new 2015 Ford Fusions on the sales lot at Butler County Ford in Butler, Pa. Automakers report December and full-year sales Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

DETROIT – Americans are buying more new cars than ever before.

U.S. auto sales were expected to reach a record high of 17.5 million in 2015, topping the old record of 17.35 million set in 2000.

Automakers report December and full-year sales Tuesday.

Low gas prices, historically low interest rates and a stronger economy are fueling the boom. Buyers who held off purchases during the recession have been lured back into the market by enticing new vehicles like the Jeep Cherokee and the revamped Ford F-150 pickup. Ford sold 780,354 F-Series trucks last year, or more than one every minute, making it the nation's top-selling vehicle.

General Motors led all automakers in the U.S. last year, with sales up 5 percent to just over 3 million cars and trucks. GM's best seller was the Chevrolet Silverado pickup.

Car shopping site Edmunds.com predicted the biggest December in history for the auto industry, with nearly 1.7 million vehicles sold. Warm weather helped, along with the usual round of holiday promotions. Car shopping site TrueCar.com said incentive spending rose 4 percent over last December to an average of $3,063 per vehicle.

GM's U.S. sales rose 6 percent over last December, while Ford's U.S. sales were up 8 percent and Fiat Chrysler's sales jumped 13 percent. Nissan's sales were up 19 percent.

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