WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. — January new-vehicle sales are expected to reach levels not seen since 2004, according to a sales forecast from J.D. Power and LMC Automotive. The two firms expect sales for the month to reach 932,000 units, an 8.5% increase over January 2014.

The total retail SAAR in January is expected to reach 16.4 million units, an increase of 1.2 million vehicles over last year. J.D. Power is also holding to its prediction of 17 million new-vehicle sales for all of 2015.

“The year is off to a great start with exceptional growth in retail sales,” said John Humphrey, senior vice president of global automotive practice at J.D. Power. “The sales momentum seen throughout 2014 is continuing into 2015.”

Continuing a trend from 2014, low gas prices are causing consumers to buy more trucks, with truck, van and SUV sales accounting for 55.4% of sales so far in January.

Vehicle production is expected to increase in 2015 but at a slower rate than last year's 5% increase. LMC Automotive expects North American production to hit 17.4 million vehicles in 2015, a 3% increase vs. 2014.

“The auto industry is starting 2015 on auto pilot,” said Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting at LMC Automotive. “Growth of 3% should be easy to achieve as the risk could be centered more with automakers and suppliers not being able to keep up with demand if growth were to be stronger than we project. “