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Economy in Brief

U.S. Light Vehicle Sales Fall Back During May
by Tom Moeller  June 2, 2021

• Car & light truck sales decline.

• Imports' share of market continues to strengthen.

The Autodata Corporation reported that light vehicle sales during May declined 7.8% (+41.5% y/y) to 17.09 million units (SAAR) following two months of increase to 18.54 million units, the highest level since July 2005.

Sales of light trucks declined 9.1% (+39.2% y/y) in May to 13.03 million units from the record 14.33 million in April. Purchases of domestically-made light trucks fell 10.0% (+39.2% y/y) to 9.87 million units. Sales of imported light trucks were off 6.0% (+39.2% y/y) from the record 3.36 million in April.

Trucks' share of the light vehicle market fell to 76.2% last month but remained near the record.

Passenger car sales fell 3.3% (+49.6% y/y) in May to 4.07 million units. Purchases of domestically-produced cars weakened 6.2% (+40.2% y/y) to 2.58 million units. Bucking the downward movement, sales of imported autos improved 2.1% (69.3% y/y) to 1.49 million.

Imports' share of the U.S. vehicle market increased last month to 27.2%, up from this year's low of 23.9% in January. Imports' share of the passenger car market rose to 36.6% in May. Imports' share of the light truck market improved to 24.3%.

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

The Fed's latest Beige Book covering regional economic conditions is available here.

Light Weight Vehicle Sales (SAAR, Million Units) May Apr Mar May Y/Y % 2020 2019 2018
Total 17.09 18.54 18.08 41.5 14.55 17.06 17.32
 Autos 4.07 4.21 4.03 49.6 3.54 4.82 5.40
  Domestic 2.58 2.75 2.67 40.2 2.53 3.53 4.05
  Imported 1.49 1.46 1.36 69.3 1.01 1.29 1.36
 Light Trucks 13.03 14.33 14.06 39.2 11.01 12.24 11.92
  Domestic 9.87 10.97 10.97 39.2 8.62 9.70 9.44
  Imported 3.16 3.36 3.09 39.2 2.39 2.54 2.48
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