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Economy in Brief

U.S. Vehicle Sales Recover During October
by Tom Moeller November 4, 2009

U.S. unit sales of light vehicles during October recovered from the "payback" month of September following the summer's "cash-for-clunkers" sales program. Sales rose 13.5% m/m to 10.46M units according to the Autodata Corporation. (Seasonal adjustment of the figures is provided by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis). October sales were stronger than the expected 9.8M sales rate.

Sales of domestically made vehicles rose 17.2% to 7.75M units after their one-third m/m September drop. Despite the gain, sales remained 0.7% lower than October 2007. Sales of fuel efficient cars rose 11.9% following their more than one-third September decline. Light truck sales reversed most of the September drop and rose 22.2% m/m. Total sales of domestic vehicles during this year's first 10 months were down 27.5% from last year's first ten months.

Imported light vehicles rebounded after the end of the sales program, but the increase was less than for domestic makes. Overall sales rose just 4.1% to 2.71M after September's 36.5% m/m drop. Sales of imported autos rose 5.2% after the one-third September drop while the gain in imported light truck sales amounted to just 1.6% after the more than one-third September drop. Year-to-date, sales of imported vehicles remained 20.0% below last year's first ten month's average.

Overall, import's share of the U.S. light vehicle market fell to 25.9% last month from 28.2% in September. It reached 26.5% during all of last year. (Imported vehicles are those produced outside the United States.) Imports' share of the U.S. car market totaled 33.9%, versus 34.3% last year while the share of the light truck market was 16.9%, down from 18.3% last year.

The U.S. vehicle sales figures can be found in Haver's USECON database.

Light Vehicle Sales (SAAR, Mil. Units) October September August Oct. Y/Y 2008 2007 2006
Total 10.46 9.22 14.09 -3.4% 13.17 16.16 16.54
  Autos 5.50 5.02 8.05 -3.7 6.71 7.58 7.77
    Domestic 3.64 3.25 5.26 -1.1 4.42 5.07 5.31
    Imported 1.87 1.77 2.78 -8.4 2.29 2.52 2.45
  Light Trucks 4.96 4.20 6.05 -3.0 6.47 8.60 8.78
    Domestic 4.12 3.37 4.75 -0.4 5.29 7.10 7.42
    Imported 0.84 0.83 1.31 -13.9 1.18 1.47 1.37
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