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Economy in Brief

U.S. August Vehicle Sales Slip M/M But Slide Y/Y
by Tom Moeller September 2, 2010

Unit sales of light vehicles showed no forward m/m momentum in August and fell sharply with the comparison to last year's Cash-For-Clunkers sales program. Sales slipped 0.6% to 11.47M units (SAAR) following July's 3.3% rise. (Past sales were revised due to new seasonal factors.) Sales were notably weak, off 19.0%, versus last year when they were boosted by the sales promotion. August sales matched Consensus expectations and remained up by nearly one-third from the recession low in February '09. (Seasonal adjustment of these figures is provided by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis).

Higher gasoline prices, up nearly two-thirds from the December 2008 low, continue to encourage sales of fuel efficient vehicles. Imported light vehicle sales were strong and posted an 8.8% m/m gain to 3.14M. Sales of imported autos rose 11.1% m/m to 2.15M, their highest since last September.. Light truck sales rose a lesser 4.0% to 0.99M. Sales of domestically produced vehicles reversed July's gain and fell 3.8% to 8.33M. Sales of fuel efficient cars fell 4.5% to 3.53M while light truck sales fell 3.2% to 4.79M.

Overall, import's share of the U.S. light vehicle market surged to 27.4%, the highest since September of last year, but it was still below the high of 30.5% in February '09. (Imported vehicles are those produced outside the United States.) Imports' share of the U.S. car market rose m/m to 37.9%. That was above the 34.7% for all of 2009 and the highest since January of last year. Imports' share of the light truck market rose m/m to 17.1% but remained below the 19.7% during all of last year.

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

Light Vehicle Sales (SAAR, Mil. Units) August July June August Y/Y 2009 2008 2007
Total 11.47 11.54 11.17 -19.0% 10.38 13.22 16.16
  Autos 5.68 5.63 5.52 -29.2 5.45 6.76 7.58
    Domestic 3.53 3.70 3.63 -33.1 3.56 4.44 5.06
    Imported 2.15 1.94 1.89 -21.9 1.89 2.32 2.52
  Light Trucks 5.79 5.91 5.57 -5.6 4.93 6.46 8.60
    Domestic 4.79 4.95 4.73 -0.1 3.96 5.28 7.10
    Imported 0.99 0.95 0.92 -25.4 0.96 1.18 1.47
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