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Economy in Brief

U.S. Light Vehicle Sales Decline to Four-Year Low
by Gerald D. Cohen  March 1, 2019

Sales of light vehicles decreased 0.8% (-2.6% year-on-year) in February to 16.57 million units at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR). This is the weakest vehicle sales since February 2015.

An 8.1% drop in auto sales (-11.6% y/y) to a 5.02 million unit pace drove the decline. In January sales increased 2.1%. Purchases of domestically-produced cars fell 9.0% (-11.0% y/y) to 3.65 million units. Sales of imported cars were down 5.5% (-13.0% y/y) to 1.37 million.

Light-truck sales grew 2.8% (1.9% y/y) last month to an 11.55 million unit rate, reversing some of January's 7.9% drop. Purchases of domestically-made light-trucks gained 2.1% (0.3% y/y) to 9.15 million units. Sales of imported light trucks jumped 4.8% (8.3% y/y) to 2.39 million.

Trucks' share of the U.S. vehicle market rebounded to a record high 69.7% (the Autodata series goes back to 1990; the Bureau of Economic Analysis data, which goes back to 1976, hit a record 70.5%).

Imports' share of the U.S. vehicle market rose last month to 22.7%, with the auto share up to 27.3% and the light truck market increasing to 20.7%, a nine-and-a-half year high.

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

Light Weight Vehicle Sales (SAAR, Million Units) Feb Jan Dec Feb Y/Y % 2018 2017 2016
Total 16.57 16.70 17.55 -2.6 17.21 17.23 17.55
 Autos 5.02 5.46 5.35 -11.6 5.48 6.33 7.10
  Domestic 3.65 4.01 3.99 -11.0 3.99 4.58 5.20
  Imported 1.37 1.45 1.36 -13.0 1.49 1.75 1.90
 Light Trucks 11.55 11.24 12.21 1.9 11.74 10.90 10.44
  Domestic 9.15 8.96 9.76 0.3 9.42 9.00 8.75
  Imported 2.39 2.28 2.45 8.3 2.32 1.90 1.69
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