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Economy in Brief

U.S. Light Vehicle Sales Fall Sharply
by Tom Moeller  September 5, 2017

The market for new motor vehicles has deteriorated markedly this year. Total sales of light vehicles declined 3.7% during August (-6.3% y/y) to 16.14 million units (SAAR) from 16.77 million in July, according to the Autodata Corporation. It was the lowest level of sales since February 2014, off 11.1% from this past December's peak.

The passenger car market has been the weakest motor vehicle sector, off 27.8% since the August 2014 peak. Sales fell 2.9% last month (-12.0% y/y) to 6.03 million units. Domestically-produced passenger car sales declined 3.5% last month (-12.3% y/y) to 4.36 million units. Sales of imported passenger cars eased 1.5% (-11.5% y/y) to 1.67 million units.

Light truck sales have been comparatively firm this cycle. Though they fell 4.2% last month (-2.5% y/y) to 10.11 million, sales have fallen a lesser 8.5% since the peak last December. Sales of domestically-made light trucks fell 4.1% (-3.9% y/y) to 8.32 million units during August. Imported light truck sales decreased 4.7% (+5.0% y/y) to 1.79 million units.

Trucks' share of the U.S. vehicle market eased m/m to 62.6%, down from December's high of 64.2%.

Imports share of the U.S. vehicle market was fairly steady m/m at 21.4%. Imports share of the passenger car market nudged higher to 27.7%. Imports share of the light truck market eased to 17.7%, still higher than the 12.7% share during all of 2014.

U.S. vehicle sales figures are published by the Autodata Corporation and can be found in Haver's USECON database.

Light Weight Vehicle Sales (SAAR, Million Units) Aug Jul Jun Aug Y/Y % 2016 2015 2014
Total 16.14 16.77 16.70 -6.3 17.55 17.42 16.52
 Autos 6.03 6.21 5.98 -12.0 7.10 7.73 7.92
  Domestic 4.36 4.51 4.33 -12.3 5.20 5.63 5.68
  Imported 1.67 1.70 1.65 -11.5 1.90 2.10 2.24
 Light Trucks 10.11 10.55 10.72 -2.5 10.44 9.74 8.60
  Domestic 8.32 8.68 8.90 -3.9 8.75 8.37 7.51
  Imported 1.79 1.88 1.82 5.0 1.69 1.38 1.09
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