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Factors affecting car sales. Growing issues with new vehicle affordability have been a key reason used vehicle sales have remained strong both in terms of volume and pricing. (Photo: Shutterstock)

U.S. auto sales for the first six months of 2018 were stronger than many analysts originally anticipated, but were driven in large part by growth in fleet sales while retail sales were essentially flat.

Higher interest rates, some pullback by auto lenders, less consumer demand, and higher gas prices were among the headwinds faced by the U.S. new vehicle market. However, it still managed to see an increase of 1.9% for the first six months of 2018 versus same period in 2017 (car sales fell by 11.8%, while light truck sales grew by 10.0%).

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