"Sales have never been this strong for the auto industry," said industry analyst Scott Merlis of Wasserstein Perella.
"The first quarter in auto sales was a very substantial positive surprise. They were off the charts. We're in uncharted territory. We have an all-time record," Merlis added.
The experts had predicted a 5 percent rise over last year's record first quarter. It more than doubled that.
For Detroit, the news is all good. The automakers are not only selling a record number of vehicles, their biggest sales increases are also coming from their most profitable models.
Ford's light-truck sales, for instance, including sport-utility vehicles, are up 20 percent this year.
"SUVs and pickup trucks are 100 percent more profitable, at least relative to cars. And that's what's selling and what's creating these record sales," Merlis said.
Some analysts say this can't keep up, that consumers can only buy so many cars. But Detroit is upping production and introducing new models, betting America's love affair with the automobile will keep burning.
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