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Economy in Brief

U.S. Vehicle Sales Edge Down in December; 2012 Volume Largest Since 2007
by Carol Stone  January 4, 2013

After their surge in November, unit sales of light motor vehicles eased 1.0% in December to 15.37M (SAAR, and 12.9% above December 2011) according to Autodata Corporation. The latest figure surpassed the Bloomberg survey consensus estimate for 15.1M sales. For all of 2012, light vehicle sales came to 14.48M, up 13.4% from 2011, the third successive double-digit percentage gain and the highest level since 16.16M in 2007.

Auto sales were 7.88M, off 2.0% m/m (19.7% y/y) to 8.04M. Domestic models were 5.49M, down 1.1% m/m (+26.9% y/y) while imports were 2.40M, down 3.9% (+6.0% y/y). For the year, auto sales were 7.43M, up a significant 19.3% from 2011.

December's light truck sales edged down 0.1% to 7.49M (+6.6% y/y). Domestic light truck purchases were 6.48M, off 0.2% from November (+7.5% y/y) with imports up 1.0% to 1.01M, up 1.1% y/y. For the year, total light truck sales were 7.05M, up 7.7% from 2011.

Imports' share of the U.S. light vehicle market pulled back just a bit to 22.2% last month from 22.5% in November. (Imported vehicles are those produced outside the United States.) That share was down from its peak of 29.9% in Q1'09. Imports' share of the U.S. car market eased to 30.4% from 31.0% in November, and imported light trucks gained to 31.0% but remained down from its 37.8% monthly peak in 2010. Imports' share of the light truck market was 13.5% last month, basically unchanged from 13.4% in November and down from its 23.9% peak in early '09.

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% 2012 2011 2010
Total 15.37 15.54 14.29 12.9 14.48 12.78 11.59
 Autos 7.88 8.04 7.44 19.7 7.43 6.23 5.77
  Domestic 5.49 5.55 5.16 26.9 5.10 4.21 3.76
  Imported 2.40 2.49 2.28 6.0 2.33 2.02 2.01
 Light Trucks 7.49 7.50 6.85 6.6 7.05 6.55 5.82
  Domestic 6.48 6.49 5.98 7.5 6.08 5.55 4.86
  Imported 1.01 1.00 0.87 1.1 0.97 1.00 0.96
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