The pickup truck segment, in particular, is expected to benefit from an improving housing market, climbing to a 15.2-percent share this year from 13.7 percent in 2014, NADA said.
On the downside, small and midsized cars are likely to face a tougher market in 2015. Mr. Szakaly said he expects incentives to rise on small and midsize vehicles while hybrid sales are expected to be slower as long as the price of oil remains relatively low.
Midsize cars are expected to decline in share of total light vehicle sales to 17 percent from 18.6 percent, while small cars are expected to lose 1 percent of share.
“The one area where prices and segment share are likely to remain stable is in the luxury segment,” Mr. Szakaly said. “A strong luxury brand, in any retail business, will hold extra goodwill that a consumer is willing to pay for.”
NADA's economic outlook calls for gross domestic product to be up 3.1 percent in 2015, with the potential for growth to exceed that level.
“The U.S. economy is poised to accelerate in 2015,” Mr. Szakaly said. “The only negative remains stagnant wages. If we see some sustained rise in incomes, GDP could easily exceed our forecast.”
The association noted there is little threat of inflation, though key policy rates from the Federal Reserve are expected to rise 50 basis points by year-end.
“Interest rates have to raise, admittedly the chaos in some overseas markets and the strong deflationary pressures from a rising U.S. dollar and a slowing Chinese economy leave room for rates to rise slowly,” he said.
“The bottom line is that it will be a good year for consumers with great products that last longer, are more fuel efficient and are safer than ever before,” Mr. Szakaly said added. “It's always been about consumer choice and the benefits of a competitive market, and that is definitely what we have.”
NADA represents more than 16,200 domestic and international new-car dealership franchises.