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Economy in Brief

U.S. Light Vehicle Sales Weaken Further in July
by Tom Moeller  August 4, 2021

• Car & light truck sales continue to decline.

• Parts shortages continue to play a role in the weakness.

• Both domestic & import sales fall.

The Autodata Corporation reported that light vehicle sales during July declined 4.5% (+0.3% y/y) to 14.73 million units (SAAR). They have fallen 20.4% since the April peak of 18.50 million units. Sales were revised slightly through 2020.

Weakness spread throughout the light vehicle market. Sales of light trucks declined 4.5% (+0.5% y/y) in July to 11.21 million units after falling 10.0% in June. Purchases of domestically-made light trucks fell 4.8% in July (-2.1% y/y) to 8.50 million units after a 9.8% June decline. Sales of imported light trucks weakened 3.6% last month (+9.7% y/y) to 2.71 million, down from April's record 3.30 million units.

Buyers continue to prefer larger vehicles. Trucks' share of the light vehicle market was little changed at 76.1% last month.

Auto sales declined along with light trucks. Passenger car sales were off 4.9% (-0.6% y/y) in July to 3.51 million units after falling 9.8% in June. Purchases of domestically-produced cars weakened 4.6% last month (-10.2% y/y) to 2.28 million units after falling 8.1% in June. Sales of imported autos weakened 4.6% (+25.3% y/y) to 1.24 million following a 12.8% June decline.

Imports' share of the U.S. vehicle market edged higher last month to 26.8% and remained up from 23.5% in December. It has been rising steadily from 19.9% in 2015. Imports' share of the passenger car market rose slightly to 35.3% in July. Imports' share of the light truck market rose to 24.2% last month.

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) Jul Jun May Jul Y/Y % 2020 2019 2018
Total 14.73 15.43 17.12 0.3 14.58 17.06 17.32
 Autos 3.51 3.69 4.09 -0.6 3.52 4.82 5.40
  Domestic 2.28 2.39 2.60 -10.2 2.51 3.53 4.05
  Imported 1.24 1.30 1.49 25.3 1.01 1.29 1.36
 Light Trucks 11.21 11.74 13.04 0.5 11.07 12.24 11.92
  Domestic 8.50 8.93 9.90 -2.1 8.65 9.70 9.44
  Imported 2.71 2.81 3.14 9.7 2.41 2.54 2.48
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