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Economy in Brief

U.S. Light Vehicle Sales Continue to Improve
by Tom Moeller  October 1, 2015

Strength in employment and income combined with minimal pricing power continues to generate buying at new car & truck dealerships. Total sales of light vehicles increased 2.0% during September to 18.17 million units (SAAR). Sales were 9.9% higher than one year ago and remained at the highest level since July 2005.

As gasoline prices remain roughly one-third below their 2012 high, purchases of light trucks have been particularly strong, rising 2.0% versus August to 10.26 million units. The 17.4% rise during the last twelve months left light trucks share of the total vehicle market at 56.5%, up from an August 2009 low of 42.8%. Domestic light truck sales increased 4.1% last month to 8.88 million units, up 17.0% y/y. Imported truck sales, however, declined 10.9% versus August to 1.37 million units (+19.8% y/y).

Auto sales gained 2.3% in September to 7.91 million units, up 1.6% y/y, following a 0.9% decline during August. Domestic auto sales increased 4.1% to 5.83 million (3.4% y/y) but they remained below last year's highs. Imported car sales fell 2.4% to 2.08 million and were down 3.2% y/y.

Imports share of the market for light vehicles fell m/m to 19.0%, still lower than a high of 30.7% in February 2009. Imports share of the passenger car market decreased m/m to 26.3%, remaining below the 34.8% peak during all of 2010. Imports share of the light truck market fell to 13.4%.

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

Light Vehicle Sales (SAAR, Mil. Units) Sep Aug Jul Sep Y/Y % 2014 2013 2012
Total 18.17 17.81 17.55 9.9 16.52 15.59 14.49
 Autos 7.91 7.73 7.80 1.6 7.92 7.77 7.42
  Domestic 5.83 5.60 5.81 3.4 5.68 5.48 5.10
  Imported 2.08 2.13 2.00 -3.2 2.24 2.30 2.32
 Light Trucks 10.26 10.08 9.75 17.4 8.60 7.82 7.08
  Domestic 8.88 8.54 8.39 17.0 7.51 6.74 6.10
  Imported 1.37 1.54 1.36 19.8 1.09 1.08 0.97
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