WASHINGTON, DC: Following a number of difficult years, carmakers in the US are upbeat about their prospects for 2015 as the economy continues to improve and falling petrol prices mean consumers have more disposable income.

Speaking to AFP, industry insiders from some of the largest car companies in America agreed the outlook is very promising and they're looking forward to strong sales.

They also observed that consumers are beginning to shift their choice of vehicle because lower prices at the pump are making fuel efficiency less of an issue.

Doug Handler, an economist with IHS Global Insight, said that over the coming year "consumer spending on gasoline will be about $92bn less, at around $750 per household".

Meanwhile, the US auto industry posted its best November sales figures in a decade and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) has forecast that US sales will reach 16.3m this year, rising to 16.6m in 2015.

"Based on recent data, consumer spending is poised to make 2015 the best year for the economy since 2005," said Richard Curtin, director of surveys at the UMTRI.

With the price of petrol at its lowest level in half a decade, some carmakers reported that consumers are turning away from diesel to less fuel-efficient vehicles.

Volkswagen spokesman Mark Gillies said that the percentage of diesel vehicles that the German automaker sold has dropped over the last two months from 23% to 16%.

Toyota, too, has seen a change as sales of its hybrid Prius dropped 13.5% in November and are down 11% for the year.

It comes as new data from industry consultants IHS Automotive revealed that no auto brand in the US now has more than 18% of the market, Automotive News reported.

GM's market share since 2000 has fallen from 28.2% to 17.6% while Ford's has fallen from 24.1% to 14.7% over the same period. Toyota has 14.5% market share while FCA, formerly known as Chrysler, now has 12.7%.

Of particular note for marketers, the IHS report said: "With no manufacturer accounting for more than 18% of the US market, the battle for consumer share will be fought on the marketing front more than ever before."

Data sourced from AFP, Reuters, Automotive News; additional content by Warc staff