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US carmakers brace for a downshift in 2019, but here’s what sold like hotcakes in 2018

Ford Motor Company's Executive Vice President and president, Global Markets, Jim Farley introduces the 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019, at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

U.S. auto manufacturers predict new-vehicle sales will hit a five-year low in 2019 amid rising interest rates and escalating trade tensions abroad.

Industry analysts anticipate U.S. auto sales will drop to 16.8 million units this year, down roughly 500,000 units from 2018’s total and off nearly 4 percent from a record 17.5 million units sold in 2016. This year is expected to mark the first time since 2014 that U.S. new-vehicle sales will fall below 17 million units.

“The U.S. auto industry is really reaching a post-peak tipping point,” said Zohaib Rahim, an analyst with Atlanta-based Cox Automotive Inc.

The anticipated falloff follows a strong 2018 in which U.S. auto sales were up 0.4 percent from the prior 12-month span. The Ford F-Series line of pickup trucks was once again the nation’s best-selling vehicle last year, with more than 909,000 total sales, while the Jeep Cherokee saw the largest jump in unit sales, up 123,555 from the prior year’s total.

Rahim credited last…

Read the full story from the Washington Business Journal.