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Economy in Brief

U.S. Light Vehicle Sales Down in May; Truck Sales Lowest Since 1996
by Tom Moeller June 4, 2008

U.S. sales of light vehicles in May fell another 1.1% m/m to a 14.30M unit annual selling rate, according to the Autodata Corporation. It was the fourth m/m decline this year and so far in 2008 vehicle sales have fallen 11.7%. The level of vehicle sales also was lower than Consensus expectations for sales of 14.6M.

Overall, sales of domestically made light vehicles fell 1.3% last month and were off 14.5% YTD, at the lowest level since early 1992.

Higher gasoline prices continued to hit sales of relatively fuel inefficient domestically made light trucks. Sales fell 9.8% m/m during May and that brought the decline this year to 25.6%. Sales of U.S. made cars have held up relatively well and posted an 8.8% increase last month and are roughly unchanged since yearend.

Sales of imported light vehicles slipped just 0.7% m/m to 3.97M units after a 2.1% April decline. Sales of imported autos rose 3.8% after a 0.4% April slip and so far this year sales of imported cars are up 5.8%. Sales of imported light trucks, however, felt some of the effect from higher gas prices and fell 9.7%; off 19.6% so far this year.

Import's share of the U.S. light vehicle market rose slightly to another record level of 27.9%. (Imported vehicles are those produced outside the U.S. and does not include vehicles with the nameplate of a foreign manufacturer produced within the U.S.) Imports' share of the U.S. car market rose to 34.6% and the share of the light truck market was 19.2%; both records and more than double the shares ten years ago.

Light Vehicle Sales (SAAR, Mil. Units) May April Y/Y 2007 2006 2005
Total 14.30  14.46 -12.5% 16.17 16.54 16.96
  Autos 7.98 7.46 -0.3% 7.58 7.77 7.65
    Domestic 5.22 4.80 -2.9% 5.07 5.31 5.40
    Imported 2.76 2.66 5.0% 2.51 2.45 2.25
  Light Trucks 6.32 7.00 -24.1% 8.60 8.78 9.32
    Domestic 5.11 5.66 -26.4% 7.12 7.42 8.12
    Imported 1.21 1.34 -13.2% 1.48 1.37 1.20
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