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Economy in Brief

U.S. Light Vehicle Sales Edge Down
by Peter D'Antonio  July 2, 2019

The Autodata Corporation reported that sales of light vehicles during June edged down by 0.7% (up 0.3% y/y) to 17.28 million units (SAAR). Total vehicle sales have been moving sideways for the past four years at what the auto industry considers a solid pace. Today's reading continues in that trend.

The entire decline was in light-truck sales which fell by 1.5% (increased 3.5% y/y) last month to a 12.19 million unit rate. Truck sales have been on an upward trajectory since the end of the recession, and today's reading does not alter that general trend. Purchases of domestically-made light trucks slipped by 1.2% (up 4.0% y/y) to 9.85 million units, while sales of imported light trucks dipped by 2.9% (up 1.2% y/y) to 2.34 million units. Imported truck sales have roughly doubled in the past four years.

Meanwhile, auto sales increased by 1.4% (down 6.7% y/y) to a 5.09 million unit annual pace. Car sales nevertheless have remained in a downtrend since 2014. Purchases of domestically-produced cars edged up by 0.6% (down 10.6% y/y) to 3.53 million units. Sales of imported cars improved by 4.0% (4.3% y/y), up for the fourth straight month, to 1.57 million units.

Trucks' share of the U.S. light vehicle market has increased steadily since 2014, when gasoline prices plummeted to current low levels. Trucks' share is currently 70.5%, up from 52.5% at the end of 2014.

Imports' share of the U.S. vehicle market was little changed last month, at 22.6% but has been trending upward since 2015. Imports' share of the passenger car market surged to 30.8%, up nearly five percentage points since the end of last year. Imports share of the light truck market eased to 19.2%, but remained up from the 11.8% low in April 2014.

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) Jun May Apr Jun Y/Y % 2018 2017 2016
Total 17.28 17.40 16.39 0.3 17.21 17.23 17.55
 Autos 5.09 5.02 4.94 -6.7 5.48 6.33 7.10
  Domestic 3.53 3.51 3.53 -10.6 3.99 4.58 5.20
  Imported 1.57 1.51 1.41 4.3 1.49 1.75 1.90
 Light Trucks 12.19 12.38 11.46 3.5 11.74 10.90 10.44
  Domestic 9.85 9.97 9.10 4.0 9.42 9.00 8.75
  Imported 2.34 2.41 2.36 1.2 2.32 1.90 1.69
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