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Economy in Brief

U.S. Vehicle Sales Inch Lower
by Tom Moeller   September 1, 2011

For all the fears about consumer spending, automobiles remain on the shopping list.Unit sales of light vehicles during August slipped just 0.8% from July to 12.12M units (SAAR) following a 5.8% July increase. Sales continued a moderate recovery following the earthquake in Japan which greatly depressed sales during May and June.

Sales of autos slipped 0.2% m/m to 5.71M leaving them 15.8% off the March peak. Sales of domestics rose 0.8% and remained 14.3% off the peak while sales of relatively fuel efficient imports fell 2.3%, down 21.5% from the peak back in September 2010.

Less fuel efficient light truck sales fell 1.5% m/m to 6.41M. Domestic model sales fell 2.4% to 5.43M. Import light truck sales rose 4.2% to 0.99M, still off 8.6% from the February high.

Imports' share of the U.S. light vehicle market ticked up to 22.5%, still the lowest since early-2006. (Imported vehicles are those produced outside the United States.) Imports' share of the U.S. car market fell m/m to 30.6% versus the record 34.7% for all of 2009. Imports' share of the light truck market rose to 15.4% versus 19.7% in 2009.

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

Light Vehicle Sales (SAAR, Mil. Units) Aug Jul Jun Y/Y 2010 2009 2008
Total 12.12 12.23 11.56 5.0% 11.58 10.38 13.22
 Autos 5.71 5.72 5.64 -0.2 5.79 5.45 6.76
  Domestic 3.97 3.93 3.88 10.1 3.78 3.56 4.44
  Imported 1.74 1.79 1.75 -17.7 2.00 1.89 2.32
 Light Trucks 6.41 6.51 5.93 10.2 5.79 4.93 6.46
  Domestic 5.43 5.56 5.00 12.1 4.84 3.96 5.28
  Imported 0.99 0.95 0.93 0.5 0.96 0.97 1.18
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