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Economy in Brief

U.S. Light Vehicle Sales Ease from Record High
by Tom Moeller  January 3, 2018

Total sales of light vehicles during 2017 totaled 17.27 million units, just slightly below the record 17.51 million averaged during 2015 and 2016, according to the Autodata Corporation. During December alone, however, sales improved 1.9% (-1.7% y/y) versus November to 17.85 million (SAAR).

Light truck sales increased 4.5% last year to a record 10.92 million. Sales of domestically-made light trucks in 2017 increased 3.0% to 9.02 million while sales of imported light trucks surged 12.3% to 1.90 million. During December alone, light truck sales improved 4.9% (6.4% y/y) to 11.76 million. That followed declines during the prior two months from an incentive-charged record high. Domestically-made light trucks increased 4.7% (5.0% y/y) to 9.61 million units following a 3.4% decline. Imported light truck sales rose 5.8% (13.3% y/y) to 2.16 million units, a record high.

Trucks' share of the U.S. vehicle market jumped to a record 65.9% in December and was higher than 51.7% ten years earlier.

The passenger car market weakened last year as sales fell 10.6% to 6.35 million units. Domestically-produced passenger car sales were off 11.7% to 4.59 million while sales of imported cars eased 7.8% to 1.76 million. During December alone, auto sales fell 3.6% (-14.3% y/y) to 6.09 million units, about the same as during the prior two months. Domestic passenger car sales declined 4.6% (-16.2% y/y) to 4.40 million. Sales of imported passenger cars eased 0.8% (-8.8% y/y) to 1.69 million units on the heels of a 5.4% decline.

Imports share of the U.S. vehicle market rose to 21.2% in 2017, a four year high. That was higher than 19.9% during all of 2015. Imports share of the passenger car market increased to 27.7% and recently has been little changed. Imports share of the light truck market strengthened to 17.4% last year, up from 12.7% in 2014.

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

The minutes to the latest FOMC meeting can be found here.

Light Weight Vehicle Sales (SAAR, Million Units) Dec Nov Oct Dec Y/Y % 2017 2016 2015
Total 17.85 17.53 18.09 -1.7 17.27 17.55 17.48
 Autos 6.09 6.32 6.56 -14.3 6.35 7.10 7.73
  Domestic 4.40 4.61 4.75 -16.2 4.59 5.20 5.63
  Imported 1.69 1.71 1.81 -8.8 1.76 1.90 2.10
 Light Trucks 11.76 11.21 11.53 6.4 10.92 10.44 9.74
  Domestic 9.61 9.17 9.49 5.0 9.02 8.75 8.37
  Imported 2.16 2.04 2.04 13.3 1.90 1.69 1.38
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