U.S. auto sales have “crushed” expectations this July, driven in large part by surging sales of luxury automobiles. In fact, car buying services say the auto market hasn’t been this strong since before the Great Recession.
In July, auto sales increased 5%, and while so-called mass-market auto sales only rose by an anemic 3% in the first half of 2015, luxury and exotic car sales rose 10%. That means car buying services that predicted a long period of low demand for luxury cars were dead wrong. According to TrueCar, American dealers and car buying services sold more than one million luxury cars in 2014, and all signs point to even stronger sales in 2015.
But remember, it’s still the auto market, which means all good news comes with some bad news. During the Chinese stock market crash this summer, luxury automakers like Tesla Motors and BMW saw their stock prices drop overnight. China is the largest auto market in the world, and if the Shanghai market selloff turns into a lasting recession there, international sales will decline even as U.S. drivers buy more cars than ever.
So why are luxury sales so strong this year, despite the naysayers of the auto world predicting catastrophe? As the U.S. stock market continues to climb, and as interest rates stay low, car buying services say there’s never been a better time to get behind the wheel of a new luxury car.
Not only that, but major luxury brands and foreign automakers are stepping up their manufacturing activities in America. Although it hasn’t yet been confirmed, Aston Martin called Alabama the “obvious choice” for their first ever foreign plant. Then there’s German manufacturers; Mercedes Benz already has a new plant in Alabama, while German manufacturer Schmidt Maschinenbau GmbH announced this summer the southern state would also be the site of its first foreign plant.
Historically, luxury sales have made up 15% of the U.S. auto market. But for U.S. luxury drivers who want high-performance vehicles made right here in the United States, there will soon be more options than ever. Of course, there’s luxury cars (defined by auto brokers as vehicles sold for more than $50,000), and then there’s true luxury cars. With all due respect to the luxury SUVs of the world, there’s an order of magnitude difference between cars with a $50,000 MSRP, and masterpieces like the Lamborghini Murcielago, with a top speed of 211 miles per hour.
The bottom line: if you’re looking to test drive a new luxury car, then 2015 is the year to do it.