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Economy in Brief

U.S. Light Vehicle Sales Ease During August
by Tom Moeller  September 1, 2022

• Light truck purchases slip, but auto sales improve.

• Imports' share strengthens.

• Sales remain constrained as parts shortages limit production.

The Autodata Corporation reported that light vehicle sales during August fell 1.0% (+1.4% y/y) to 13.37 million units (SAAR) from 13.50 million in July. Sales remained roughly one-quarter below the April 2021 peak. Vehicle sales comprise about four percent of real consumer expenditures.

Sales of light trucks led last month's overall decline, falling 2.2% (+3.8% y/y) to 10.44 million units following a 2.8% July gain. Purchases of domestically-produced light trucks weakened 3.2% last month (+6.1% y/y) to 8.05 million units after rising 4.0% in July. Sales of imported light trucks edged 0.8% higher to 2.38 million units (-3.3% y/y) after easing 1.3% in July.

Trucks' share of the light vehicle market eased to 78.1% in August and remained down from the 80.4% high in October 2021.

Auto sales rose 3.5% during August (-6.4% y/y) to 2.93 million units, a four-month high, after holding steady in July. Purchases of domestically-made autos rose 2.6% in August (-1.0% y/y) to 2.0 million units following three straight months of decline. Sales of imported autos surged 5.7% (-16.2% y/y) to 0.93 million units, also a four-month high.

Imports' total share of the U.S. vehicle market rose to 24.8% in last month, the highest level in six months. Imports' share of the passenger car market improved to 31.7% last month, but remained down from the September 2021 high of 38.1%. Imports' share of the light truck market rose to 22.8%.

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

Returning to Price Stability from Cleveland Fed President Loretta J. Mester is available here.

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