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Economy in Brief

U.S. August Light Vehicle Sales Recovered Modestly
by Tom Moeller September 4, 2008

U.S. sales of light vehicles in August recovered their decline during July and rose 9.3%, according to the Autodata Corporation. The latest sales level of 13.72M units, nevertheless, left sales for the year so far averaging 14.32M. That's down 11.6% from the 16.20M averaged during the first eight months of last year. The level of August vehicle sales was higher than Consensus expectations for sales of 13.0M.

Sales of domestically made light vehicles recovered the declines of the prior two months. They rose 15.2% to 10.30M. Nevertheless, sales remained down 13.7% YTD.

Aggressive discounting lifted sales of domestically made light trucks to their highest level since March. The 28.1% jump from July still left sales down 20.2% YTD.

Sales of U.S. made cars rose just 1.5% after two months of sharp decline. Nevertheless and continuing drivers' shift to purchases of relatively fuel efficient vehicles, car sales were down only 4.5% YTD.

Sales of imported light vehicles showed further the effect of weakness in consumer spending on durable goods. They fell by 5.3% to 3.42 million units which was their lowest level since early 2006.

Sales of imported autos repeated their July drop and declined by 8.4% to 2.33M units. Year-to-date sales, however, were flat with the first eight months of 2007.

Imported light truck sales ticked up just 1.8% (-22.0% y/y) after four months of sharp decline. They too have felt the effect of higher fuel costs and were down 14.2% YTD.

Import's share of the U.S. light vehicle market fell to 24.9%, the lowest since this past February. (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.).

Light Vehicle Sales (SAAR, Mil. Units) August July Y/Y 2007 2006 2005
Total 13.72 12.55 -15.8% 16.17 16.54 16.96
  Autos 6.74 6.88 -9.1 7.58 7.77 7.65
    Domestic 4.41 4.35 -12.7 5.07 5.31 5.40
    Imported 2.33 2.54 -1.4 2.51 2.45 2.25
  Light Trucks 6.98 5.67 -21.5 8.60 8.78 9.32
    Domestic 5.89 4.59 -21.4 7.12 7.42 8.12
    Imported 1.09 1.07 -22.0 1.48 1.37 1.20
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