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Economy in Brief

U.S. Light Vehicle Sales Strengthen During March
by Tom Moeller  April 1, 2021

• Passenger car sales improve as light truck sales surge.

• Domestic & import sales post strong increases.

• Imports' share of vehicle market continues to rise.

U.S. sales of light vehicles strengthened last month as COVID-19 vaccines were more readily available. The Autodata Corporation reported that light vehicle sales during March surged 13.0% to 18.00 million units (SAAR) and were up by more than one-half y/y.

Sales of light trucks jumped 13.3% (66.0% y/y) during March to a record 13.99 million units. Purchases of domestically-made light trucks rose 12.4% (59.9% y/y) to 10.95 million units following February's 4.1% decline. Adding to the rise, sales of imported light trucks increased 16.5% (92.4% y/y) to a record 3.04 million.

Trucks' share of the light vehicle market improved to a record 77.7%.

Auto sales increased 12.0% (35.9% y/y) last month to 4.01 million units, the highest level since February of last year. Purchases of domestically-produced cars rose 13.2% (23.1% y/y) to 2.66 million units after three straight months of decline. Sales of imported autos jumped 10.7% (70.9% y/y) to 1.35 million, the highest level since July 2019.

Imports' share of the U.S. vehicle market increased last month to 24.4%, up from a low of 19.9% during all of 2015. Imports' share of the passenger car market eased to 33.7% in March. Imports' share of the light truck market edged slightly higher to 21.7%, but was down from a high of 23.0% this past November.

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 % 2020 2019 2018
Total 18.00 15.93 16.84 58.0 14.55 17.06 17.32
 Autos 4.01 3.58 3.88 35.9 3.54 4.82 5.40
  Domestic 2.66 2.35 2.65 23.1 2.53 3.53 4.05
  Imported 1.35 1.22 1.24 70.9 1.01 1.29 1.36
 Light Trucks 13.99 12.35 12.95 66.0 11.01 12.24 11.92
  Domestic 10.95 9.74 10.16 59.9 8.62 9.70 9.44
  Imported 3.04 2.61 2.79 92.4 2.39 2.54 2.48
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