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Economy in Brief

U.S. Light Vehicle Sales Backpedal
by Tom Moeller October 2, 2008

U.S. September sales of light vehicles reversed their August rise and fell 8.9%, according to the Autodata Corporation. The sales rate of 12.50M units fell back to its July level, which was the lowest sales rates since 1992. Sales for the year so far have averaged a 14.12M annual selling rate, down 12.8% from the first nine months of last year. The level of September vehicle sales was quite a bit weaker than Consensus expectations for sales of 13.5M.

Sales of domestically made light vehicles reversed half of their August gain and fell 8.3% (-23.4% y/y) to 9.44M units. Year-to-date, sales were down 14.8% from the first nine months of last year. Domestically made light truck sales continued to suffer due to higher gasoline prices, falling 11.8% (-28.1% y/y). That decline reversed nearly half of their 28.1% August gain. Truck sales this year were 21.1% lower than during the first nine months of 2007. Sales of U.S.- made cars fell a lesser 3.7% from August. Drivers' shift to purchases of relatively fuel efficient vehicles left sales down a less severe 5.9% versus the first nine months of last year.

Sales of imported light vehicles fell a sharp 10.5% (-20.7% y/y) in September to 3.06 million units, the lowest level since 2002.Sales of imported autos dropped another 16.5% m/m to 1.94M on top of their 8.4% decline. The latest was their lowest sales rate since January 2006. Year-to-date, sales were down 6.8% from the first nine months of 2007.Imported light truck sales ticked up another 2.3% (-24.7% y/y). However, they too felt the effect of higher fuel costs and were down 15.4% versus the first nine months of last year.

Import's share of the U.S. light vehicle market fell again, last month to 24.5%, the lowest since this past January. (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.).

Who really made your car? from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago is available here.

Economy in lower gear through 2008 also from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago can be found here.

Light Vehicle Sales (SAAR, Mil. Units) September August Y/Y 2007 2006 2005
Total 12.50 13.72 -22.8% 16.17 16.54 16.96
  Autos 6.19 6.74 -17.2 7.58 7.77 7.65
    Domestic 4.25 4.41 -16.8 5.07 5.31 5.40
    Imported 1.94 2.33 -18.2 2.51 2.45 2.25
  Light Trucks 6.31 6.98 -27.6 8.60 8.78 9.32
    Domestic 5.19 5.89 -28.1 7.12 7.42 8.12
    Imported 1.12 1.09 -24.7 1.48 1.37 1.20
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