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Economy in Brief

U.S. Light Vehicle Sales Maintain 15-Year High; Imported Truck Sales Surge
by Tom Moeller  November 3, 2015

Total sales of light vehicles edged 0.4% higher during October to 18.24 million units (SAAR). The gain followed a total increase of 6.9% during the prior three months and left sales 10.0% higher than one year ago. Total unit sales were at the highest level since July 2005.

A 0.2% dip in light truck sales understates the dynamic behind last month's truck market -- a surge in imports and a decline in domestic sales. Imports' 1.9% gain to 1.62 million units was to a record high, with sales nearly 50% higher versus a year ago. The strength came at the expense of domestic truck sales which eased 3.0% but were still 14.8% higher than last year.

Passenger car sales increased 1.3% (0.4% y/y) after a 2.3% September rise. Sales were barely higher (0.4%) than one year ago. Imported car sales paced last month's increase with a 1.9% rise. The gain, however, did not make up September's loss and sales of imports remained 0.8% lower than last year. Sales of domestic passenger cars fared somewhat better and gained 1.0% after a 4.1% surge in the month prior. Here again, though, the y/y comparison is a less-than-inspiring 0.9%.

Imports share of the market for light vehicles rose m/m to 20.5%, still lower than a high of 30.7% in February 2009. Imports share of the light truck market jumped to 15.8%, its highest since March 2011. Imports share of the passenger car market was little changed m/m at 26.4%, remaining below the 34.8% peak during all of 2010.

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

Light Vehicle Sales (SAAR, Mil. Units) Oct Sep Aug Oct Y/Y % 2014 2013 2012
Total 18.24 18.17 17.81 10.0 16.52 15.59 14.49
 Autos 8.01 7.91 7.73 0.4 7.92 7.77 7.42
  Domestic 5.89 5.83 5.60 0.9 5.68 5.48 5.10
  Imported 2.12 2.08 2.13 -0.8 2.24 2.30 2.32
 Light Trucks 10.23 10.26 10.08 18.9 8.60 7.82 7.08
  Domestic 8.61 8.88 8.54 14.8 7.51 6.74 6.10
  Imported 1.62 1.37 1.54 46.7 1.09 1.08 0.97
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