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Economy in Brief

U.S. Light Vehicle Sales Fall Sharply in May
by Tom Moeller  June 1, 2022

• Both auto & light truck sales weaken.

• Sales remain constrained as parts shortages limit dealer inventory.

• Imports' share eases to six-month low.

The Autodata Corporation reported that light vehicle sales during May declined 12.2% to 12.81 million units (SAAR). Sales were off by roughly one-quarter y/y and were one-third below the April 2021 peak. Vehicle sales comprise roughly four percent of real consumer expenditures.

Sales of light trucks led last month’s decline by falling 12.4% (-23.0% y/y) to the lowest level this year. Purchases of domestically-produced light trucks weakened 11.0% last month (-19.7% y/y) to 7.95 million units. Sales of imported light trucks declined 17.4% to 2.09 million units and were off by one-third y/y.

Trucks' share of the light vehicle market was little-changed at 78.4% in May but down from the 80.4% share six months earlier.

Auto sales weakened 11.5%, off by one third y/y, to 2.77 million units. Purchases of domestically-made autos fell 13.2% in May to 1.90 million units, off by one-quarter y/y. Sales of imported autos fell 6.5% (-41.6% y/y) to 0.87 million units.

Imports' total share of the U.S. vehicle market eased m/m to 23.1% and remained below February's 25.4% share. Imports' share of the passenger car market rose to nearly one-third, but remained down from the September 2021 high of 38.1%. Imports' share of the light truck market eased to 20.8%.

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.

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