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Economy in Brief

U.S. Light Vehicle Sales Lowest Since 1992
by Tom Moeller August 4, 2008

U.S. sales of light vehicles in July fell another 8.3% from June, according to the Autodata Corporation. The latest sales level of 12.55M units was the lowest since early-1992 and it pulled sales down 21.5% so far this year. The level of vehicle sales also was lower than Consensus expectations for sales of 13.7M.

Sales of domestically made light vehicles overall, at 8.94M, fell 8.5% last month from June and they were off 24.7% YTD. The level of domestic sales was at the lowest since January 1987.

The relatively fuel inefficient domestically made light trucks continued to feel most the effect of higher gasoline prices and sales fell 9.1% from June. That pulled the decline in sales since December to 32.3% and it left the level of light truck sales at the lowest since late-1992.

Sales of U.S. made cars also felt the effect of higher gas prices. They about repeated their June decline with a 7.8% m/m drop to 4.35M units. Using data from Ward's Automotive News, that was lowest level of car sales since the late 1950s.

Sales of imported light vehicles also showed the effect of higher gasoline prices, and weaker consumer spending generally. They fell by 7.8% to 3.61 million after June's 0.1% uptick.

Sales of imported autos fell 9.0%, to 2.54M, after the revised 4.1% increase during June. Despite the monthly decline, sales of the relatively fuel efficient imported cars are up 1.9% year-to-year.

Not impervious to the rise in gasoline prices, sales of imported light trucks fell 5.0% (-24.5% y/y) last month while they were off 4.6% since December.

As a result of the greater decline in sales of U.S. made vehicles, import's share of the U.S. light vehicle market rose again to another record level of 28.8%. (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 ticked slightly lower from the June record to 36.9% while import's share of the light truck market rose to 18.9%, near the record of 19.3%.

U.S. auto exports on the rise from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago can be found here.

Light Vehicle Sales (SAAR, Mil. Units) July June Y/Y 2007 2006 2005
Total 12.55 13.69 -18.9% 16.17 16.54 16.96
  Autos 6.88 7.50 -5.6 7.58 7.77 7.65
    Domestic 4.35 4.72 -9.5 5.07 5.31 5.40
    Imported 2.54 2.79 1.9 2.51 2.45 2.25
  Light Trucks 5.67 6.18 -30.8 8.60 8.78 9.32
    Domestic 4.59 5.05 -32.1 7.12 7.42 8.12
    Imported 1.07 1.13 -24.5 1.48 1.37 1.20
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