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Economy in Brief

U.S. Vehicle Sales Improve At YearendBut For 2009 Were The Lowest In Twenty Seven Years
by Tom Moeller January 6, 2010

U.S. unit sales of  light vehicles during December recovered slightly, but by hardly enough to salvage losses earlier in the year. Sales rose 2.9% m/m to 11.25M units according to the Autodata Corporation and were slightly stronger than Consensus expectations for 11.0M. To the upside, December sales rose 22.7% from the February '09 low. For the year as a whole, however, sales fell 21.6% from the 2008 average. At 10.37M units vehicle purchases last year were at their lowest level since 1982. (Seasonal adjustment of these figures is provided by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis).

Sales of domestically made vehicles rose 3.1% last month to 8.42M units. They now have recovered by nearly one-third from the February low but for the year as a whole fell by nearly one-quarter from 2008. Sales of fuel efficient cars rose 9.1% for the month and have risen by nearly one-half from the January low. For the year as a whole sales fell 19.8%. Light truck sales slipped 2.0% m/m during December but were 25.8% above the low. For 2009, sales fell 25.2% as gasoline prices rose.

Imported light vehicle sales rose 2.4% from November to 2.82M and were up 12.4% from the recession low in April. For 2009 sales fell a lesser 18.3% from the 2008 average. Sales of imported autos inched up another 0.8% m/m and 12.1% from the low. Sales for 2009 were 18.2% below 2008 while imported light truck sales rose 5.8% during December and by 12.9% from the low. For all of 2009 imported light trick sales fell 18.5%.

Overall, import's share of the U.S. light vehicle market during December was roughly stable m/m at 25.1%. It reached a new high of 27.6% during all of last year versus 26.5% during 2008. (Imported vehicles are those produced outside the United States.) Imports' share of the U.S. car market totaled 31.5% versus 34.3% during all of last year, which was up just slightly from 2008, while the share of the light truck market was 17.8%, down from 19.6% last year and from 18.3% in 2008.

The U.S. vehicle sales figures can be found in Haver's USECON database.

Automotive Industry Outlook: Understanding the Impact on Workers and Communities from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago can be found here

Light Vehicle Sales (SAAR, Mil. Units) December November October Dec. Y/Y 2009 2008 2007
Total 11.25 10.93 10.46 8.7% 10.37 13.22 16.16
  Autos 6.01 5.65 5.50 13.9 5.46 6.76 7.58
    Domestic 4.11 3.77 3.64 15.8 3.56 4.44 5.06
    Imported 1.89 1.88 1.87 10.1 1.90 2.32 2.52
  Light Trucks 5.24 5.28 4.96 0.2 4.91 6.46 8.60
    Domestic 4.31 4.40 4.12 2.6 3.95 5.28 7.10
    Imported 0.93 0.88 0.84 -10.3 0.96 1.18 1.47
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