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A high employment rate and cheap gasoline prices helped the U.S. auto industry conclude last year on a positive note.

Zacks.com reported that strong economic fundamentals, along with the rising trend for spacious vehicles, pushed the industry toward annual new vehicle sales of 17.27 million in 2018, marking a yearly rise of 0.3% — the fourth straight year sales topped the 17-million mark.

Buyers splurged on SUVs, crossovers and pickup trucks while passenger car sales declined, similar to 2017. Car sales contributed 32% to the total sales in 2018 while trucks and SUVs accounted for 68%.

In fact, softer global market conditions and rising interest rates couldn’t stop the industry to attain the sales figure of 17.2 million in 2017. The automakers enjoyed an uptick in 2018 and December sales despite increasing car and truck prices as well as rising rates. For 2018, both Edmunds.com and Cox Automotive projected sales of 17.3 million and 17.2 million, respectively.

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