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Year-end offers lifting US auto sales to record levels

With automakers and dealers pushing special year-end deals, the pace of vehicle sales in November has hit the highest level of the year according to Edmunds.com.

The online auto research firm estimates the pace of sales for the month will be 18.3 million vehicles. That would be the highest monthly sales pace in 2015. It would also mark three straight months where the sales rate topped 18 million vehicles, something that has never happened in the U.S..

"Since 2010, November has delivered one of the three best SAARs in each year, and last year, Thanksgiving weekend accounted for twice as many sales as any other weekend in November. We expect to see both trends continue this year," said Jessica Caldwell, director of industry analysis at Edmunds.com.

The strong pace of sales has been widely anticipated due to a combination of factors including low unemployment, strong consumer confidence and cheap financing. But November sales are getting an extra boost from year-end promotions offering buyers big discounts and/or low monthly payments.

Ford's "Friends and Neighbors" program, the "Season of Audi" and General Motors offering "Black Friday Deals" all month long are some of sales promotions being run this month. Those offers are being backed by an advertising blitz which is driving buyers into showrooms.

At the Los Angeles International Auto Show, Mark Reuss, executive vice president, global product development at GM, told CNBC the automaker has seen strong demand all month. "As an industry it is running really high right now, over 18 million here on a monthly basis," he said.

If November auto sales hit a pace of 18.3 million vehicles, it could prompt analysts and auto consultants to once again raise their full-year sales estimates. Many now believe 2015 is on track to top 17.4 million vehicles sold, which was the pace in 2000, the strongest year ever for auto sales in the U.S.

Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com.