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Economy in Brief

U.S. Light Vehicle Sales Weaken During November
by Tom Moeller  December 1, 2020

• Passenger car sales ease slightly.

• Sales of light trucks fall for second straight month.

• Imports share of market improves.

Buyers of light vehicles pared back spending last month and added to October's weakness. The Autodata Corporation reported that sales of light vehicles fell 3.1% during November (-7.6% y/y) to 15.88 million units (SAAR) from 16.38 million in October, revised from 16.41 million. Despite the decline, November sales were 81.7% higher than the April low of 8.74 million units.

Sales of light trucks fell 4.0% (-4.9% y/y) during November to 11.96 million units, the lowest level in three months. Purchases of domestically-made light trucks weakened 5.7% (-7.0% y/y) to 9.22 million units, down for the second straight month. Offsetting this decline was a 1.9% increase (2.2% y/y) in imported light truck sales to 2.73 million units after a 0.7% dip during October.

Trucks' share of the light vehicle market fell to 75.3%, down from the 77.5% peak during May.

Auto sales eased 0.3% (-14.8% y/y) last month to 3.92 million units, well below their peak level of 7.71 million unit sales reached in 2014. Purchases of domestically-produced cars were unchanged (-15.8% y/y) at 2.83 million units, the highest level since February. Sales of imported cars fell 0.9% (-12.1% y/y) for a second month to 1.09 million units.

Imports' share of the U.S. vehicle market rose last month to 24.1%, continuing the upward trend of the last four months. Imports' share of the passenger car market was little changed at 27.8%. Imports share of the light truck market improved to 22.8% 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) Nov Oct Sep Nov Y/Y % 2019 2018 2017
Total 15.88 16.38 16.51 -7.6 17.06 17.32 17.23
 Autos 3.92 3.93 3.89 -14.8 4.82 5.40 6.17
  Domestic 2.83 2.83 2.77 -15.8 3.53 4.05 4.58
  Imported 1.09 1.10 1.11 -12.1 1.29 1.36 1.59
 Light Trucks 11.96 12.46 12.63 -4.9 12.24 11.92 11.07
  Domestic 9.22 9.78 9.93 -7.0 9.70 9.44 9.00
  Imported 2.73 2.68 2.70 2.2 2.54 2.48 2.07
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