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Economy in Brief

U.S. Vehicle Sales Steady in January
by Carol Stone February 2, 2007

In January, U.S. sales of light vehicles eased 0.1% from the prior month to 16.73M units, according to the Autodata Corporation. This was 4.6% below January 2006.

There were offsetting moves in trucks and cars. Total truck sales came to 9.04 million, up 4.5% from December and the largest volume of truck sales since 9.11 million last March. Domestic and import trucks gained in about equal proportion.

Car sales, in almost mirror fashion, fell 5.0% in the month and 9.0% from a year ago. Domestic car sales, at 5.12 million lost much of their December increase, down 5.8%; they were down 21.5% from January 2006, but that was an unusually high month. Sales of imported autos were 2.57 million, down 3.4% from December, but up 33.5% from a weak year-ago figure.

Vehicle sales have been firmer in the last two months and we'd surmise that lower gasoline prices have something to do with that. At the same time, the increase does not carry these sales much above earlier months of 2006, suggesting that consumers remain skittish about prospects for gas prices as 2007 progresses. The fact that import brands tend to be better at fuel-efficient vehicles is seen in the escalating share of imports in the total. Note too that among "domestics", import brands produced in North America also have better sales. In Haver's INDUSTRY database, we tabulate these sales by manufacturer, and market shares of specific companies can be assessed using those data.

Light Vehicle Sales (SAAR, Mil. Units) January December Y/Y 2006 2005 2004
Total 16.73 16.74 -4.6% 16.55 16.96 16.87
  Autos 7.69 8.09 -9.0% 7.77 7.65 7.49
  Trucks 9.04 8.65 -0.5% 8.78 9.32 9.37
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