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Economy in Brief

U.S. Vehicle Sales Strength Driven By Cars
by Tom Moeller February 2, 2012

Sales of light motor vehicles began the year on a strong note. Unit sales of light vehicles rose to 14.19M (AR) last month, up 11.7% from one year earlier. That selling rate was up from 13.56M during December and was the highest since May, 2008. It also beat the Consensus estimate for 13.5M sales, according to Bloomberg.

The overall sales gain last month reflected higher auto sales. Their 13.9% m/m increase (20.4% y/y) to 7.42M was to the highest level since June 2008. It owed to a 19.0% (19.5% y/y) gain in domestic car sales to 5.00M and a 4.6% rise (22.1% y/y) rise in imports at 2.42M. Light truck sales fell 4.0% m/m (+3.6% y/y) to 6.76M reflecting a 5.3% decline (+4.5% y/y) to 5.73M in domestic truck purchases. Sales of imported light trucks rose 3.5% (-1.1% y/y) to 1.03M.

Imports' share of the U.S. light vehicle market held at 24.3% in January, roughly stable with last year. (Imported vehicles are those produced outside the United States.) Imports' share of the U.S. car market slipped m/m to 32.6% (32.4% in 2011). Imports' share of the light truck market was 15.2% last month, stable with all of last year.

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

Light Vehicle Sales (SAAR, Mil. Units) Jan Dec Nov Y/Y % 2011 2010 2009
Total 14.18 13.56 13.63 11.7 12.78 11.58 10.38
 Autos 7.42 6.52 6.66 20.4 6.24 5.79 5.45
  Domestic 5.00 4.20 4.36 19.5 4.22 3.78 3.56
  Imported 2.42 2.32 2.30 22.1 2.02 2.00 1.89
 Light Trucks 6.76 7.04 6.97 3.6 6.54 5.79 4.93
  Domestic 5.73 6.04 5.98 4.5 5.55 4.84 3.96
  Imported 1.03 1.00 1.00 -1.1 1.00 0.96 0.97
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