Powered by the rising economy, U.S. sales of cars and light trucks likely will rise 14 percent to 11.9 million units this year and go higher next year, NADA chief economist Paul Taylor predicted Sunday.
Taylor said his forecast exceeded the consensus estimate of 11.5 million units from other economists mostly because used-car prices are rising in response to diminished supply, making new cars more appealing.
He also cited improved fuel economy in predicting increased sales across a broad range of vehicles.
"We believe in this economy, and we believe higher mileage in a lot of cars will motivate sales as well," Taylor said.
He said he expects 2011 sales to top this year's but wouldn't be more specific.
Taylor forecast a 3 percent increase in gross domestic product.
He said consumer confidence was hamstrung by stubborn unemployment, and lack of floorplan financing for some brands continues to be a problem.
"None of this is progressing as fast as we'd like," Taylor said.
U.S. sales plunged to 10.4 million units in 2009, from 13.2 million in 2008 and 16.1 million in 2007.