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Economy in Brief

U.S. Light Vehicle Sales Tumble
by Tom Moeller  April 2, 2020

• Auto showrooms quiet as coronavirus flares up.

• Car & light truck sales fall in tandem.

The Autodata Corporation reported that sales of light vehicles during March declined 33.4% (-34.6% y/y) to 11.35 million (SAAR) from 17.04 million in February. It was the lowest level of sales since April 2010 when the economy was just emerging from the recession. Sales have been easing since the 2016 sales peak of 17.55 million units.

Sales of light trucks were off 32 .9% (-31.6% y/y) to 8.43 million units. Purchases of domestically-made light trucks fell 31.4% (-30.2% y/y) to 6.81 million units. Sales of imported light trucks weakened 38.6% (-37.0% y/y) to 1.62 million units.

Trucks' share of the U.S. light vehicle market reached a record 74.3%, up from a low of 48.8% during all of 2012.

Auto sales weakened 34.8% (-42.2% y/y) to 2.92 million units and remained below a peak level of 7.71 million unit sales reached in 2014. Purchases of domestically-produced cars fell 32.9% (-43.0% y/y) to 2.16 million units. Sales of imported cars weakened 39.7% both m/m and y/y to 0.76 million units.

Imports' share of the U.S. vehicle market fell last month to 21.0%. Imports' share of the passenger car market declined to 26.0%. Imports share of the light truck market fell to 19.2% 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) Mar Feb Jan Mar Y/Y % 2019 2018 2017
Total 11.35 17.04 17.07 -34.6 16.99 17.27 17.23
 Autos 2.92 4.48 4.49 -42.2 4.80 5.36 6.16
  Domestic 2.16 3.22 3.33 -43.0 3.52 4.00 4.58
  Imported 0.76 1.26 1.17 -39.7 1.28 1.36 1.59
 Light Trucks 8.43 12.56 12.57 -31.6 12.18 11.92 11.07
  Domestic 6.81 9.92 10.00 -30.2 9.65 9.44 9.00
  Imported 1.62 2.64 2.57 -37.0 2.53 2.48 2.07
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