Auto sales in 2012 were the best they've ever been since 2007. Chrysler saw the biggest gain with a 21 percent increase. Ford's overall sales rose 4.7 percent in 2012. General Motors posted a 3.7 percent jump over 2011.
Local car dealers helped steer the nationwide sales, citing drivers being more confident in the economy for the boost.
Charles West, president of West Chevrolet, said, "In the last year or two actually we've seen our customer volume pick up. "
Todd Weber, sales manager of Toyota Knoxville, said, "Each month we had a better month in 2012 than we did in 2011."
West Chevrolet and Toyota Knoxville are waiting for final figures from 2012, but say their sales are in line with the national trend in which it's believed automakers sold 15.3 million new vehicles.
Salesmen point to the housing market as part of the reason for the comeback in the auto industry.
West said, "With lot of uncertainty in unemployment due to the housing, I think there are a lot of people in the building industry who weren't able to go out and buy trucks in the early part of the recession, but now as things kind of improve we've seen a really good growth in the last 24 months."
Also, car dealerships point to deals from finance companies as another reason for the sales spike.
Weber said, "Lenders jumped in and offered some great incentives to get people's interest up."
And drivers' interest in a better fuel-efficient car is a third factor auto companies attribute to the record-breaking numbers.
Dealerships are extremely confident the upward spiral in sales will continue in 2013 as several new models are expected to make their way to showroom floors.