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Economy in Brief

U.S. Light Vehicle Sales Recover After Three Months of Decline
by Tom Moeller  April 1, 2015

Consumers renewed their car-buying interest last month. Sales of light vehicles increased 5.6% (4.0% y/y) during March to 17.15 million units (AR) versus 16.23 million in February. The latest level was the highest since November.

Interest in buying light trucks remains strong with lower gasoline prices. At 55.1%, light trucks share of total vehicle sales was close to the highest level since July 2005. During March, light truck sales increased 4.9% (8.8% y/y) to 9.44 million units. Domestic light truck sales increased 4.1% to 8.24 million (8.8% y/y), bringing them to the highest point since July 2005. Imported truck sales jumped 10.3% to 1.20 million (8.8% y/y), the highest level since July.

Auto sales increased 6.6% last month to 7.70 million but they remained down 1.3% y/y. Imported car sales jumped 11.8% to 2.26 million (-2.4% y/y). Domestic auto sales improved 4.5% to 5.45 million (-0.9% y/y).

Imports share of the market for light vehicles improved m/m to 20.2%, the highest point in nine months. It still was down versus a high of 30.7% in February 2009. Imports share of the passenger car market surged to 29.3%, the highest level since May. Imports share of the light truck market improved modestly to 12.7%, but remained down from a high of 23.8% early in 2009.

U.S. vehicle sales figures are published by Autodata and can be found in Haver's USECON database.

Light Vehicle Sales (SAAR, Mil. Units) Mar Feb Jan Y/Y % 2014 2013 2012
Total 17.15 16.23 16.66 4.0 16.49 15.58 14.48
 Autos 7.70 7.23 7.54 -1.3 7.91 7.78 7.42
  Domestic 5.45 5.21 5.47 -0.9 5.68 5.48 5.10
  Imported 2.26 2.02 2.07 -2.4 2.23 2.30 2.32
 Light Trucks 9.44 9.01 9.12 8.8 8.58 7.81 7.06
  Domestic 8.24 7.92 8.07 8.8 7.50 6.73 6.09
  Imported 1.20 1.09 1.04 8.8 1.08 1.08 0.97
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