Rob Paddor is loving life right now. The owner of a Subaru dealership in Skokie, Illinois, is coming off of the best year he's ever had in the auto business—sales are up 30 percent year over year, and 2015 is looking to be even better.
"I have little or no inventory," said Paddor, who's been in the auto business for more than 30 years. "As soon as we get new models, they're gone. People are ready to buy right now."
Paddor's not the only new car dealer seeing record sales. Across the country, dealerships are experiencing a rare combination: strong demand, strong pricing and no sign of it slowing down in the near future.
"January is a low-volume month, but the early signs are good," said Michelle Krebs, senior analyst at AutoTrader. "Consumer confidence and continued low gas prices are driving a lot of people to buy a new car or truck."
Consumer confidence is perhaps the best indicator of why auto sales are running so strong. For years, it's been clear that as consumer confidence goes, so go auto sales. The most recent reading has consumer confidence at its highest level since 2004. Not surprisingly, auto sales this year are expected by many to reach or exceed 17 million vehicles for the first time since 2001. Last year, U.S. auto sales totaled 16.52 million vehicles.