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Auto industry’s new slogan: ‘Drive with glee in your SUV’

FILE PHOTO/CHRISTOPHER HOLLAND / The entrance to Rauch Field House at last year’s Greater Lehigh Valley Auto Show, one of the show’s venues at Lehigh University in Bethlehem. The 2016 show is scheduled for March 17-20.

If you visited a Lehigh Valley new car dealership last year, one thing should have been evident: you were not alone!

If you visited a Lehigh Valley new car dealership last year, one thing should have been evident: you were not alone!

Car sales, which include SUVs and light trucks, continue to increase across North America at record pace. It seems America has rediscovered its love with automobiles.

Locally, every dealership is reporting increases in sales and a marked enthusiasm in its customers.

Through November, U.S. auto sales have been on fire. So much so, that the National Auto Dealers Association and industry analysts predicted a 2015 end-year sales number exceeding 17.8 million, easily topping last year’s totals of 16.5 million.

If December numbers pan out as forecasted, auto sales will surpass the industry’s former record of 17.3 million set in 2000.

Looking back, it’s been hard to fathom how the industry sunk to a low-sale mark of 10 million units following the bankruptcies in 2009.

According to Steven Szakaly, chief economist for NADA, there was “a lot of competition for manufacturers to push their sales numbers to the end of the year.”

Carmakers have a tendency to offer factory incentives and increase sales specials in the last month of the year in an effort to record higher volumes than rivals.

Why the growth in sales?

Industry experts and economists point to a strengthening U.S. economy, improving employment and wage-growth figures, rising consumer confidence and, especially, lower gasoline prices.

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