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Economy in Brief

U.S. Light Vehicle Sales Rebound to 10-Month High
by Carol Stone, CBE  October 2, 2018

Sales of light vehicles totaled 17.44 million units (SAAR) in September, up 4.3% on the month but down 4.0% on the year. August's sales had been 16.72 million. The September results were the strongest since November 2017, when they were 17.64 million.

Passenger car sales rose 5.3% last month to 5.41 million units; despite this rebound, the longer-term trend in car sales put them down 18.9% from a year ago. Sales of domestically made cars almost exactly reversed their August decline, as they rose 3.8% in September to 3.91 million units, off 19.1% from a year ago. Sales of imported passenger cars rose 8.9% to 1.49 million units, but that is still down 18.8% from September 2017.

Light trucks, which of course include SUVs and widely used pick-up trucks, advanced 3.9% in September to 12.03 million units from 11.58 in August and were up 4.7% from September 2017's 11.49 million units. Sales of domestically made light trucks rose 2.8% to 9.63 million units, although that was up just 2.0% from the year-ago volume. Sales of imported light trucks reversed an August decline as they surged 8.6% in September (16.9% y/y) to 2.40 million, a new record.

Trucks' share of the U.S. vehicle market eased slightly to 69.0% last month from August's record 69.3%; this compared to 63.3% during all of last year and 48.8% during all of 2012.

Imports' share of the U.S. vehicle market rose to 22.4% last month. Imports' share of the passenger car market increased to 27.5%. Imports share of the light truck market went up to 20.0% from 19.1% in August.

U.S. vehicle sales figures can be found in Haver's USECON database. Additional detail by manufacturer is in the INDUSTRY database.

Sep Aug Jul Sep Y/Y % 2017 2016 2015
Total 17.44 16.72 16.77 -4.0 17.23 17.55 17.48
 Autos 5.41 5.14 5.32 -18.9 6.33 7.10 7.73
  Domestic 3.91 3.77 3.93 -19.1 4.58 5.20 5.64
  Imported 1.49 1.37 1.39 -18.8 1.75 1.90 2.10
 Light Trucks 12.03 11.58 11.45 4.7 10.90 10.44 9.74
  Domestic 9.63 9.37 9.14 2.0 9.00 8.75 8.37
  Imported 2.40 2.21 2.32 16.9 1.90 1.69 1.38
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