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Economy in Brief

U.S. Light Vehicle Sales Improve in October
by Tom Moeller  November 2, 2021

• Increase reflects higher truck sales.

• Auto purchases fall for sixth straight month.

• Chip shortage continues to limit availability.

The Autodata Corporation reported that light vehicle sales during October improved 6.0% (-20.2% y/y) to 13.12 million units (SAAR) and recaptured virtually all of September's decline to 12.38 million units. Despite the increase, sales remain 29.1% below the April peak of 18.50 million units.

U.S. consumers continue to prefer larger vehicles. Trucks' share of the light vehicle market rose to 80.3% last month from 78.5% in September. That was increased from a low of 48.1% during all of 2009.

Sales of light trucks rose 8.4% (-16.0% y/y) in October to 10.54 million units after falling 3.4% in September. Purchases of domestically-made light trucks strengthened 13.2% in October (-16.1% y/y) to 8.23 million units, a three-month high. Sales of imported light trucks fell 6.1% last month (-16.1% y/y) to 2.30 million unit, remaining down from April's record 3.30 million units.

Passenger car sales fell another 2.3% (-33.4% y/y) in October to 2.59 million units after a 15.3% September decline. Purchases of domestically-produced cars rose 3.0% last month (-38.6% y/y) to 1.70 million units after five consecutive months of decline. Down for the fifth straight month, sales of imported autos weakened 11.9% in October (-20.5% y/y) to 0.89 million units following a 9.0% September drop.

Imports' share of the U.S. vehicle market fell sharply last month to 24.3%, the lowest percentage since February. It had been rising steadily from 19.9% in 2015. Imports' share of the passenger car market fell to 34.4% from the record 38.1% in October. Imports' share of the light truck market plummeted to 21.8% last month, down from 25.2% in September.

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) Oct Sep Aug Oct Y/Y % 2020 2019 2018
Total 13.12 12.38 13.19 -20.2 14.58 17.06 17.32
 Autos 2.59 2.65 3.13 -33.4 3.52 4.82 5.40
  Domestic 1.70 1.65 2.02 -38.6 2.51 3.53 4.05
  Imported 0.89 1.01 1.11 -20.5 1.01 1.29 1.36
 Light Trucks 10.54 9.72 10.06 -16.0 11.07 12.24 11.92
  Domestic 8.23 7.27 7.59 -16.1 8.65 9.70 9.44
  Imported 2.30 2.45 2.46 -16.1 2.41 2.54 2.48
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