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Economy in Brief

U.S. Light Vehicle Sales Ease During October
by Tom Moeller  November 3, 2020

• Sales slip from seven-month high in September.

• Light truck sales ease as car sales improve.

Vehicle buyers pared back spending last month. The Autodata Corporation reported that sales of light vehicles eased 0.6% during October (-2.7% y/y) to 16.41 million units (SAAR) from 16.51 million in September, revised from 16.36 million. October sales remained near the highest level since February, up 87.8% from the April low of 8.74 million units.

Sales of light trucks fell 1.2% (+0.9% y/y) during October to 12.48 million units, still nearly the highest level since February. Purchases of domestically-made light trucks eased 1.5% (-0.1% y/y) to 9.78 million units after five months of strong gain. Sales of imported light trucks held steady last month (4.7% y/y) at an upwardly revised 2.70 million units in September, after a 12.0% increase during August.

Trucks' share of the U.S. light vehicle market eased to 76.1%, down from the 77.5% peak during May.

Auto sales increased 1.0% (-12.5% y/y) last month to 3.93 million units, well below their peak level of 7.71 million unit sales reached in 2014. Purchases of domestically-produced cars rose 2.2% (-11.6% y/y) to 2.83 million units, the highest level since February and up 92.5% from the April low. Sales of imported cars fell 0.9% last month (-14.7% y/y) to 1.10 million units after rising 12.1% during September.

Imports' share of the U.S. vehicle market rose slightly last month to 23.2% and has been trending higher since 19.9% during all of 2015. Imports' share of the passenger car market eased to 28.0% from 28.5%. Imports share of the light truck market improved to 21.6% and has been trending up from 14.7% in 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) Oct Sep Aug Oct Y/Y % 2019 2018 2017
Total 16.41 16.51 15.22 -2.7 17.06 17.32 17.23
 Autos 3.93 3.89 3.62 -12.5 4.82 5.40 6.17
  Domestic 2.83 2.77 2.63 -11.6 3.53 4.05 4.58
  Imported 1.10 1.11 0.99 -14.7 1.29 1.36 1.59
 Light Trucks 12.48 12.63 11.60 0.9 12.24 11.92 11.07
mjk  Domestic 9.78 9.93 9.19 -0.1 9.70 9.44 9.00
  Imported 2.70 2.70 2.41 4.7 2.54 2.48 2.07
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