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Economy in Brief

U.S. Light Vehicle Sales Strengthen
by Tom Moeller  February 4, 2020

The Autodata Corporation reported that sales of light vehicles during January edged 1.1% higher (2.0% y/y) to 17.05 million units (SAAR) from 16.87 million in December. During the last three months, sales averaged 17.00 million units, a figure that has been trending lower since the 2016 sales peak of 17.55 million units.

Sales of light trucks increased 3.5% (9.7% y/y) to 12.56 million units. Purchases of domestically-made light trucks rose 4.2% (10.5% y/y) to 9.98 million units following December's 3.7% fall. Sales of imported light trucks improved 0.8% (6.6% y/y) to 2.58 million units after December's 4.1% decline. Imported light truck sales have roughly doubled in the past five years.

Trucks' share of the U.S. light vehicle market rose to a record 73.7%, up from a low of 48.8% during all of 2012.

Auto sales declined 5.3% (-15.0% y/y) to 4.48 million. That remained below a peak level of 7.71 million unit sales during all of 2014. Purchases of domestically-produced cars fell 7.0% (-16.2% y/y) to 3.32 million units and reversed December's rise. Sales of imported cars held steady (-11.5% y/y) at 1.16 million units and have been trending lower since 2011.

Imports' share of the U.S. vehicle market was steady last month at 22.0%. Imports' share of the passenger car market rebounded to 25.9% after falling in December. Imports share of the light truck market slipped to 20.5% but remained up from the 12.0% low in January 2015.

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) Jan Dec Nov Jan Y/Y % 2019 2018 2017
Total 17.05 16.87 17.20 2.0 17.00 17.27 17.23
 Autos 4.48 4.73 4.58 -15.0 4.80 5.36 6.16
  Domestic 3.32 3.57 3.34 -16.2 3.52 4.00 4.58
  Imported 1.16 1.16 1.24 -11.5 1.28 1.36 1.59
 Light Trucks 12.56 12.14 12.62 9.7 12.18 11.92 11.07
  Domestic 9.98 9.58 9.95 10.5 9.65 9.44 9.00
  Imported 2.58 2.56 2.67 6.6 2.53 2.48 2.07
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