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Through half of 2015, auto sales are on track to hit record levels not seen in 15 years — which has many observers convinced the industry will see sales fall soon.

As reported by the Los Angeles Times, after climbing more than 4% through July, after several years of post-recession growth, annual sales could approach the previous annual record of 17.4 million.

The robust market has been fueled by the need for drivers to replace aging cars, historic low interest rates and sagging gasoline prices, trends expected to wane.

“This is a cyclical industry, and there is no escaping the consumer cycle,” said Steven Szakaly, chief economist for the National Auto Dealers Association (NADA).

What will the manufacturers do this time? Will they hold pricing or start a price war to hold onto market share?

John Hoffecker, a vice chairman at AlixPartners and head of the firm’s global automotive practice, predicts a downturn after 2016 with sales tumbling as low as 14 million.

Sales, which hit 8.5 million so far this year, could tick up a bit next year. But they are likely near their peak, according to association forecasts.

With auto sales making up one of the strongest segments of still-tepid economy, any reversal would be felt nationally. In previous down cycles, automakers have resorted to profit-killing price wars to maintain market share and keep factories humming. With the deep recession still in recent memory, they might resort to cutting shifts and laying off workers more quickly.

Consumers — who are paying record prices for cars now — would likely see the return of big discounts.

John Hoffecker, a vice chairman at AlixPartners and head of the firm’s global automotive practice, predicts a downturn after 2016 with sales tumbling as low as 14 million.

“We have had a great run,” he said, but the end is near. In prior cycles, demand for cars has been driven by job and income growth, consumer confidence, the stock market and interest rates. But new demographic trends could also put the brake on auto sales.

The number of miles driven per car has flattened, a trend that slows car replacement, he said. During the recession, people delayed purchases for economic reasons and discovered their vehicles held up. Now, the average age of vehicles on U.S. roads is more than 11 years.

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