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Economy in Brief

U.S. Light Vehicle Sales Strengthen in January
by Tom Moeller  February 1, 2022

• Light truck sales rebound to eight month high.

• Auto sales rise for third straight month.

• Imports' share improves.

The Autodata Corporation reported that light vehicle sales during January increased 19.3% (-10.0% y/y) to 15.16 million units (SAAR). Sales were at the highest level since June of last year but remained 18.1% below the April '21 peak of 18.50 million units.

Sales of light trucks rose 21.6% (-7.1% y/y) last month to 12.05 million units, the highest level since last May. Purchases of domestically-made light trucks rose 20.8% in January (-7.4% y/y) to 9.40 million units. Adding to this increase was a 24.4% rise (-6.0% y/y) in sales of imported light trucks to 2.65 million units, though they remained below the April '21 record of 3.30 million unit sales.

Trucks' share of the light vehicle market increased to 79.5% last month but remained below an 80.4% share in October. For all of last year, the share was 77.5%, up from a low of 48.1% during all of 2009.

Passenger car sales rose 11.1% (-19.6% y/y) in January to 3.11 million units, the highest level since last August. Purchases of domestically-produced cars rose 10.1% last month (-21.8% y/y) to 2.08 million units following a 1.1% December increase. Sales of imported autos rose 13.2% in last month (-14.9% y/y) to 1.03 million units, the highest level since August.

Imports' share of the U.S. vehicle market rose in January to 24.3%, though that remained down from a 27.9% September high. Imports' share of the passenger car market rose to 33.1% last month but remained below the September high of 38.1%. Imports' share of the light truck market increased to 22.0%, the highest level since 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) Jan Dec Nov Jan Y/Y % 2021 2020 2019
Total 15.16 12.71 13.11 -10.0 15.10 14.58 17.06
 Autos 3.11 2.80 2.66 -19.6 3.40 3.52 4.82
  Domestic 2.08 1.89 1.87 -21.8 2.24 2.51 3.53
  Imported 1.03 0.91 0.78 -14.9 1.16 1.01 1.29
 Light Trucks 12.05 9.91 10.46 -7.1 11.70 11.07 12.24
  Domestic 9.40 7.78 8.38 -7.4 9.03 8.65 9.70
  Imported 2.65 2.13 2.08 -6.0 2.67 2.41 2.54
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