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Economy in Brief

U.S. Vehicle Sales End Year On A Firm Note
by Tom Moeller January 5, 2012

Last year was a good one for auto makers. December's unit sales of light vehicles of 13.56M (AR) rose 8.4% from one year earlier. That pulled full year sales to 12.78M, up 10.4% after 2010's 11.6% gain. Last month's sales were nearly the highest in more than two years and roughly matched the Consensus estimate for 13.5M sales, according to Bloomberg.

The overall sales gain in December was led by light trucks which rose 9.6% y/y to 7.04M units. For the full year sales rose 12.9% to 6.54M. Domestic model sales rose 12.0% y/y to 6.04M in December but sales of imports fell 3.1% y/y to 1.00M. Auto sales also were firm and posted a 7.1% y/y gain in December to 6.52M. For the year sales rose 7.8% to 6.24M. Imported car sales rose 12.5% y/y to 2.32M and sales of domestics rose 4.3% to 4.20M.

Imports' share of the U.S. light vehicle market again rose slightly to 24.4% in December. (Imported vehicles are those produced outside the United States.) For the full-year imports' share of 23.6% was down from 25.6% in 2010 as production facilities were closed due to Japan's earthquake & tsunami. Imports' share of the U.S. car market rose m/m to 35.5%. For the full year, imports' share of 32.4% compared to the record 34.7% for all of 2009. Imports' share of the light truck market slipped to 14.1% last month and 13.2% for the year versus the high of 19.7% in 2009.

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

Light Vehicle Sales (SAAR, Mil. Units) Dec Nov Oct Y/Y % 2011 2010 2009
Total 13.56 13.63 13.26 8.4 12.78 11.58 10.38
 Autos 6.52 6.66 6.43 7.1 6.24 5.79 5.45
  Domestic 4.20 4.36 4.27 4.3 4.22 3.78 3.56
  Imported 2.32 2.30 2.16 12.5 2.02 2.00 1.89
 Light Trucks 7.04 6.97 6.83 9.6 6.54 5.79 4.93
  Domestic 6.04 5.98 5.84 12.0 5.55 4.84 3.96
  Imported 1.00 1.00 0.98 -3.1 1.00 0.96 0.97
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