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Economy in Brief

U.S. Light Vehicle Sales Rise Further During July
by Tom Moeller  August 3, 2020

• Vehicle sales continue to increase m/m, but are off 14.6% y/y.

The Autodata Corporation reported that sales of light vehicles rose 10.2% last month (-14.6% y/y) to 14.53 million units (SAAR) from 13.18 million in June. It was the third straight monthly increase from a low of 8.81 million in April. (Previous sales figures were revised.)

Sales improved last month versus 11.35 million averaged in Q2'20, but remained below the average 15.17 million in Q1'20, and 17.05 million in Q4'19. Improved vehicle sales added 0.15 percentage points to Q2 growth in real GDP, after subtracting 0.78 points in Q1.

Auto sales increased 16.7% (-26.2% y/y) last month to 3.50 million units but remained well below their peak level of 7.71 million unit sales reached in 2014. Purchases of domestically-produced cars surged 24.6% (-25.4% y/y) to 2.53 million units, the highest level since February. Sales of imported cars held steady m/m (-28.7% y/y) at 0.97 million units.

Sales of light trucks improved 8.3% (-10.2% y/y) during July to 11.02 million units. Purchases of domestically-made light trucks rose 14.4% (-11.4% y/y) to 8.64 million units. Working the other way, sales of imported light trucks declined 9.5% (-5.6% y/y) to 2.38 million units.

Trucks' share of the U.S. light vehicle market declined to 75.8% from a record high to 77.6% in May, but remained up from a low of 48.8% during all of 2012.

Imports' share of the U.S. vehicle market fell sharply last month to 23.1%. Imports' share of the passenger car market weakened to 27.7%, a four-month low. Imports share of the light truck market similarly fell sharply to 21.6%, also a four-month low.

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) Jul Jun May Jul Y/Y % 2019 2018 2017
Total 14.53 13.18 12.06 -14.6 17.06 17.32 17.23
 Autos 3.50 3.00 2.70 -26.3 4.82 5.40 6.17
  Domestic 2.53 2.03 1.83 -25.4 3.53 4.05 4.58
  Imported 0.97 0.97 0.87 -28.7 1.29 1.36 1.59
 Light Trucks 11.02 10.18 9.36 -10.2 12.24 11.92 11.07
  Domestic 8.64 7.55 7.09 -11.4 9.70 9.44 9.00
  Imported 2.38 2.63 2.27 -5.6 2.54 2.48 2.07
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