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Economy in Brief

U.S. Vehicle Sales Flat; Truck Sales Down, Cars Up
by Tom Moeller October 3, 2007

U.S. sales of light vehicles during September were roughly flat with August at a 16.23M unit annual selling rate. The September performance followed a 6.5% m/m rebound during August, according to the Autodata Corporation. Sales were better than expectations for a 5.9M selling rate.

Though gasoline prices have fallen somewhat since the May peak of $3.22 per gallon, the 21% gain last month versus September of 2006 appeared to impact those buyers searching for fuel efficiency.

Domestically made vehicle sales fell 1.5% m/m to 12.38M (-2.8% y/y). Sales of domestic light trucks fell 3.5% m/m to a 7.28M selling rate. In addition, for this year, sales of domestically assembled light trucks are down 3.1% versus the average of 2006 and sales last year fell 8.7% versus 2005.

Conversely, sales of U.S. made cars rose 1.4% m/m to 5.10M units last month (-1.9% y/y) after a firm 6.2% August rise. The domestic auto business continued to be under pressure, however, as the selling rate so far this year is down 5.4% from 2006 and sales last year fell 1.7% y/y.

Sales of the relatively fuel efficient imported light vehicles posted a 4.1% m/m rise to 3.85M units (-0.3% y/y). Notable, however, was that gain was due to a 7.9% m/m gain in light truck sales which this year are up 7.5% from 2006, a year when sales of imported light trucks rose 14.2% from 2005.

Sales of imported cars rose 1.8% last month to 2.35M (-4.0% y/y) though the y/y decline is versus a very strong 2006 when sales rose 9.1% from 2005.

Light Vehicle Sales (SAAR, Mil. Units)  September August Y/Y 2006 2005 2004
Total 16.23 16.27 -2.2% 16.55 16.96 16.87
  Autos 7.45 7.34 -2.6% 7.77 7.65 7.49
    Domestic 5.10 5.03 -1.9% 5.31 5.40 5.36
    Imported 2.35 2.31 -4.0% 2.45 2.25 2.14
  Trucks 8.77 8.93 -2.0% 8.78 9.32 9.37
    Domestic 7.28 7.54 -3.5% 7.42 8.12 8.15
    Imported 1.50 1.39 6.3% 1.37 1.20 1.23
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