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Economy in Brief

U.S. Light Vehicle Sales Remain Solid for Another Year
by Peter D'Antonio  January 4, 2018

Sales of light vehicles edged up 0.3% (0.7% y/y) in December to 17.55 million units (SAAR), which was the highest level in twelve months. For the full year 2018, light vehicle sales totaled 17.21 million units, topping 17 million for a fourth consecutive year.

Passenger car sales eased 0.4% (-10.3% y/y) last month to 5.35 million units. Sales of domestically made cars picked up by 1.0% (-7.8% y/y) to 3.99 million units, partially reversing a decline in November. Meanwhile, sales of imported passenger cars posted an offsetting decline of 4.9% (-16.8% y/y) to 1.36 million units. That decline was the third in a row and the sixth in the past seven months.

Light truck sales increased 0.7% (6.4% y/y) in December to 12.21 million units after a 1.9% gain in the prior month. Sales approached the record high, nearly matching the sales during the July 2005 "employee discount" promotions. Sales of domestically-produced light trucks rose 0.5% (4.4% y/y) to 9.76 million units following a 2.2% rise in November. Sales have been moving steadily upward toward a record high. Sales of imported light trucks improved 1.2% (14.8% y/y) to a new record of 2.44 million units.

Trucks’ share of the U.S. vehicle market continued to rise last month, reaching a record 69.6%. This compared to 47.3% at the low during all of 2009.

Imports’ share of the U.S. vehicle market eased last month to 21.7%, the third consecutive decline. This share has fallen from a peak of 27.6% during all of 2009.

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

U.S. Light Weight Vehicle Sales (SAAR, Million Units)

Dec Nov Oct Dec Y/Y % 2017 2016 2015
Total 17.55 17.49 17.53 0.7 17.23 17.55 17.48
 Autos 5.35 5.37 5.64 -10.3 6.33 7.10 7.73
  Domestic 3.99 3.95 4.17 -7.8 4.58 5.20 5.64
  Imported 1.36 1.43 1.47 -16.8 1.75 1.90 2.10
 Light Trucks 12.21 12.12 11.89 6.4 10.90 10.44 9.74
  Domestic 9.76 9.71 9.50 4.4 9.00 8.75 8.37
  Imported 2.44 2.41 2.39 14.8 1.90 1.69 1.38
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