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Economy in Brief

U.S. Light Vehicle Sales Decline Sharply in August
by Tom Moeller  September 1, 2021

• Car & light truck sales weaken further.

• Parts shortages continue to limit availability.

• Both domestic & import sales fall.

The Autodata Corporation reported that light vehicle sales during August declined 11.1% (-14.8% y/y) to 13.09 million units (SAAR). They have fallen 29.2% since the April peak of 18.50 million units.

Sales of light trucks declined 11.0% (-15.0% y/y) in August to 9.98 million units after falling 4.5% in July. Purchases of domestically-made light trucks fell 11.2% in August (-18.9% y/y) to 7.55 million units after declining 4.8% July. Sales of imported light trucks were off 10.0% last month (+0.4% y/y) to 2.44 million, down from April's record 3.30 million units.

U.S. consumers continue to prefer larger vehicles. Trucks' share of the light vehicle market rose minimally to 76.2% last month. That was increased from the latest low of 48.1% during all of 2009

Auto sales declined as well as light trucks sales. Passenger car sales were off 11.7% (-14.1% y/y) in August to 3.10 million after a 4.9% July decline. Purchases of domestically-produced cars weakened 12.7% last month (-24.0% y/y) to 1.99 million units after falling 4.6% in July. Down for a third straight month, sales of imported autos weakened 10.5% (+11.0% y/y) to 1.11 million following a 4.6% July decline.

Imports' share of the U.S. vehicle market was little changed last month at 27.0% 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 to 35.8% in August. Imports' share of the light truck market rose to 24.4% last month, up from 20.7% in August 2020.

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) Aug Jul Jun Aug Y/Y % 2020 2019 2018
Total 13.09 14.73 15.43 -14.8 14.58 17.06 17.32
 Autos 3.10 3.51 3.69 -14.1 3.52 4.82 5.40
  Domestic 1.99 2.28 2.39 -24.0 2.51 3.53 4.05
  Imported 1.11 1.24 1.30 11.0 1.01 1.29 1.36
 Light Trucks 9.98 11.21 11.74 -15.0 11.07 12.24 11.92
  Domestic 7.55 8.50 8.93 -18.9 8.65 9.70 9.44
  Imported 2.44 2.71 2.81 0.4 2.41 2.54 2.48
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