GM's Barra Predicts Strong US Car Market in 2015 Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

GM's Barra Predicts Strong US Car Market in 2015

Barra said the market could see between 16.5 million and 17 million cars and trucks from all makers sold across the United States this year, after 16.5 million in 2014.

General Motors (IW 500/5) chief executive Mary Barra predicted another strong year for U.S. car sales on Thursday, forecasting that 2015 will prove to be the best year since 2001.

Barra said the market could see between 16.5 million and 17 million cars and trucks from all makers sold across the United States this year, after 16.5 million in 2014. 

The last time the 17 million mark was reached was in 2001.

"The U.S. economy and vehicle sales have been rebounding since 2009, and we believe there is still plenty of room for the auto industry to grow," Barra said in a preview to the annual North American International Auto Show opening in Detroit next week.

"The strength of the labor market, better job security and the recovery in home prices have consumers feeling pretty good about the future, so we expect people will continue to replace their older cars and trucks," she said.

"The recent sharp drop in fuel prices and rising incomes should only add to their confidence."

She also cited a surge in young and first-time buyers, helped by the surge in jobs in the economy.

For GM, the country's largest automaker, sales will be strong in its small Chevrolet sedan and SUV models, including the Trax SUV, she said.

GM said the small SUV market will grow "more than 80 percent in the next few years."

GM is also expecting big returns from its new Colorado mid-sized pickup truck.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015

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