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Economy in Brief

U.S. Light Vehicle Sales Improve with Rise in Passenger Car Sales
by Tom Moeller  November 1, 2018

Sales of light vehicles increased 0.7% (-2.2% y/y) during October to 17.57 million units (SAAR), the highest level since November 2017. The latest gain followed a 4.3% September jump.

Passenger car sales rose 4.8% (-12.8% y/y) last month to 5.67 million units. The rise brought them to the highest level since February. Sales of domestically made cars rose 6.6% (-11.9% y/y) to 4.17 million units and added to a strong September increase. Sales of imported passenger cars rose 0.7% (-15.2% y/y) to 1.50 million units. That gain followed an 8.9% jump during September.

Light truck sales declined 1.1% in October to 11.90 million units. Sales remained up, nevertheless, by 3.9% during the last 12 months. Sales of domestically-produced light trucks fell 1.3% (+0.6% y/y) to 9.50 million units. Sales had been moving steadily upward toward a record high. Sales of imported light trucks improved 0.4% (19.5% y/y) to a new record of 2.41 million units.

Trucks' share of the U.S. vehicle market declined to 67.7% last month, off modestly from August's 69.0% record. This compared to 63.3% during all of last year and 47.3% at the low during all of 2009.

Imports' share of the U.S. vehicle market was little changed last month at 22.2%, but down from 27.6% during all of 2009. Imports' share of the passenger car market fell to 26.5%. Imports share of the light truck market improved to 20.3% which nearly equaled the cycle high. It's up from the low of 12.7% in 2014.

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

Oct Sep Aug Oct Y/Y % 2017 2016 2015
Total 17.57 17.44 16.72 -2.2 17.23 17.55 17.48
 Autos 5.67 5.41 5.14 -12.8 6.33 7.10 7.73
  Domestic 4.17 3.91 3.77 -11.9 4.58 5.20 5.64
  Imported 1.50 1.49 1.37 -15.2 1.75 1.90 2.10
 Light Trucks 11.90 12.03 11.58 3.9 10.90 10.44 9.74
  Domestic 9.50 9.63 9.37 0.6 9.00 8.75 8.37
  Imported 2.41 2.40 2.21 19.5 1.90 1.69 1.38
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