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Economy in Brief

U.S. Light Vehicle Sales Weaken in February
by Tom Moeller  March 2, 2021

• Sales of cars & light trucks ease.

• Domestic passenger car sales fall sharply again.

• Imports' share of vehicle market remains firm.

Light vehicle sales faltered last month. The Autodata Corporation reported that sales of light vehicles declined 5.6% during February (-6.7% y/y) to 15.88 million units (SAAR), the lowest level in six months.

Auto sales declined 8.2% (-20.9% y/y) last month to 3.56 million units, the lowest level since last July. Purchases of domestically-produced cars fell 11.3% (-27.0% y/y) to 2.35 million units, down for the third straight month. Sales of imported autos weakened 1.6% (-6.2% y/y) to 1.21 million, but have been trending steadily higher since the low last April.

Sales of light trucks were off 4.9% (-1.6% y/y) during February to 12.32 million units versus record sales of 12.95 million in January. Purchases of domestically-made light trucks weakened 4.1% (-1.9% y/y) to 9.74 million units following two months of moderate increase. Adding to the decline, sales of imported light trucks fell 7.5% (-0.4% y/y) to 2.58 million after reaching a record 2.79 million units in January.

Trucks' share of the light vehicle market improved to a record 77.6%.

Imports' share of the U.S. vehicle market held steady last month at 23.9%, up from 22.2% in January 2020 and a low of 19.9% during all of 2015. Imports' share of the passenger car market strengthened to 34.0% in February, the highest level since November 2010. Imports' share of the light truck market eased m/m to 20.9%, down from a high of 23.0% in November.

U.S. vehicle sales figures can be found in Haver's USECON database. Additional detail by manufacturer is in the INDUSTRY database.

U.S. Economic Outlook and Monetary Policy: An Update from Fed Governor Lael Brainard can be found here.

Light Weight Vehicle Sales (SAAR, Million Units) Feb Jan Dec Feb Y/Y % 2020 2019 2018
Total 15.88 16.83 16.41 -6.7 14.55 17.06 17.32
 Autos 3.56 3.88 3.84 -20.9 3.54 4.82 5.40
  Domestic 2.35 2.65 2.70 -27.0 2.53 3.53 4.05
  Imported 1.21 1.23 1.14 -6.2 1.01 1.29 1.36
 Light Trucks 12.32 12.95 12.57 -1.6 11.01 12.24 11.92
  Domestic 9.74 10.16 9.90 -1.9 8.62 9.70 9.44
  Imported 2.58 2.79 2.67 -0.4 2.39 2.54 2.48
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