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Economy in Brief

U.S. Vehicle Sales Suffer From Harsh Weather & Toyota Recall
by Tom Moeller March 3,2010

For the second consecutive month U.S. vehicle sales suffered from "special" factors. In January, declines followed an end to sales promotions.  Last month, large snowfalls hit several regions of the country just as Toyota announced a recall. The result was a decline in U.S. unit sales of  light vehicles during February to 10.38M units (SAAR) from 10.78M in January. The latest was the lowest level since September when sales suffered from the end of aggressive promotions. February sales were slightly weaker than Consensus expectations for 10.5M. (Seasonal adjustment of these figures is provided by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis).

Sales of domestically  produced vehicles fell 2.2% last month to 7.71M units from 7.88M in January. Sales of fuel efficient cars fell 2.4% for the month (+25.0% y/y) though the decline eased from January's 8.2% drop. Light truck sales fell 2.0% m/m to the lowest level since September.

Imported light vehicle sales suffered from the recall of some Toyota models. However, the 7.9% m/m decline to 2.67M units followed four consecutive months of rising sales. Sales of imported autos fell a hard 5.8% m/m to the lowest level since September while light truck sales fell a larger 12.0% to their lowest since October.

Overall, import's share of the U.S. light vehicle market during February fell to 25.7%. The share has been declining erratically from its high of 30.5% twelve months ago and from 27.6% during all of last year. (Imported vehicles are those produced outside the United States.) Imports' share of the U.S. car market held relatively firm m/m at 32.9% but that still was below 34.3% during 2009. Imports' share of the light truck market fell to 17.5%, falling further below the 19.6% last year.

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

Light Vehicle Sales (SAAR, Mil. Units) February January December Feb. Y/Y 2009 2008 2007
Total 10.38 10.78 11.25 13.2% 10.37 13.22 16.16
  Autos 5.49 5.70 6.01 17.7 5.46 6.76 7.58
    Domestic 3.68 3.78 4.11 25.0 3.56 4.44 5.06
    Imported 1.81 1.92 1.89 5.2 1.90 2.32 2.52
  Light Trucks 4.88 5.08 5.24 8.5 4.91 6.46 8.60
    Domestic 4.03 4.11 4.31 17.5 3.95 5.28 7.10
    Imported 0.86 0.97 0.93 -20.3 0.96 1.18 1.47
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