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Economy in Brief

U.S. Light Vehicle Sales Decline
by Tom Moeller  August 1, 2018

Total sales of light vehicles fell 2.7% during July (-0.1% y/y) to 16.77 million units (SAAR), the lowest level since August of last year according to the Autodata Corporation. The decline left sales 7.7% below the 18.16 million unit high reached last September. July sales have declined 3.8% since December, following a 4.0% December-to-December shortfall during 2017. During Q2'18, personal consumption expenditures of motor vehicles & parts contributed 0.2 percentage points to the increase in real GDP as total vehicle sales eased 0.2% from Q1. The vehicle sales data were revised back through 2016.

Sales of light trucks declined 2.8% (+8.2% y/y) last month to 11.45 million units, down only slightly from the record high. Domestic light truck sales were off 3.5% (+4.8% y/y) to 9.14 million units. Sales of imported light trucks were roughly unchanged (+24.3% y/y) at 2.32 million units.

Trucks' share of the U.S. vehicle market held steady at 68.3% in July and remained up versus 63.3% during all of last year and 48.8% during all of 2008.

Passenger car sales fell 2.5% (-14.2% y/y) to 5.32 million units. Sales of domestically-made autos eased 0.6% (-12.7% y/y) to 3.93 million units. Sales of imported passenger cars fell 7.6% (-18.0% y/y) to 1.39 million units.

Imports' share of the U.S. vehicle market was steady at 22.1% last month, up from 19.9% in 2015. Imports' share of the passenger car market fell to 26.2% from 27.7% last year. Imports share of the light truck market increased to 20.2%, up from a 12.7% low during 2014.

U.S. vehicle sales figures can be found in Haver's USECON database.

Jul Jun May Jul Y/Y % 2017 2016 2015
Total 16.77 17.24 17.19 -0.1 17.23 17.55 17.48
 Autos 5.32 5.45 5.59 -14.2 6.33 7.10 7.73
  Domestic 3.93 3.95 3.99 -12.7 4.58 5.20 5.63
  Imported 1.39 1.51 1.60 -18.0 1.75 1.90 2.10
 Light Trucks 11.45 11.78 11.60 8.2 10.90 10.45 9.74
  Domestic 9.14 9.47 9.25 4.8 9.00 8.75 8.37
  Imported 2.32 2.31 2.35 24.3 1.90 1.69 1.38
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