Data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), shows that total light (cars and light truck/SUVs), vehicle sales in August were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, (SAAR) of 16.463 million (M), units, down 64,000 units or 3.7% from July. On a three month moving average (3MMA), basis, sales were tracking at 16.859M, down 1.2% month on month (m/m) and off 3.9% year on year (y/y). September sales were reportedly much stronger as vehicles damaged in hurricanes Harvey and Irma were being rapidly replaced. Data from Ward’s automotive reports September sales tracking at a SAAR of 18.47M, spiking to a SAAR of 2.007M units.

auto-sales-fig1Figure 1 shows the history of light vehicle sales (domestic plus imports), from 2010 to present. It is clear from this chart that the sales cycle has peaked as sales have been down for 16 consecutive months when examined on a 3MMA y/y basis.

Per Ward’s automotive, day’s inventory in August stood at 70 days, down one day from July’s number, but higher by eight days on a y/y comparison. September day’s inventory fell to 64, the same value as a year earlier as storm damages vehicles were quickly being replaced.

Figure 2auto-sales-fig2 breaks-out auto, (car sales) from total light vehicle sales from 2010 to present. In August, car sales fell 207,000 units or -3.5%, m/m to a SAAR of 5.744M. On a 3MMA domestic car sales were down 1.7% y/y. Domestic SAAR car sales were 4.881M, down 176,000 units or -3.9%. On a 3MMA domestic car sales were down 1.8%. Import sales dipped by 31,000 units or -2.2%, m/m to a SAAR of 1.362M. On a 3MMA import car sales were down 0.1% y/y. Import market share for cars stands at 23.7%, up 0.3% from the previous 12 month average.

auto-sales-fig3Figure 3 shows light truck sales history from 2010 to present. In August, light truck sales fell 434,000 units or -3.9%, m/m to a SAAR of 10.719M. On a 3MMA domestic light truck sales were down 1.1% y/y. Domestic SAAR light truck sales were 8.085M, down 328,000 units or -3.9%. On a 3MMA domestic light truck sales were down 1.0%. Import sales fell by 131,000 units or -5.6%, m/m to a SAAR of 2.204M. On a 3MMA import light truck car sales were down 2.5% y/y. Import market share for light truck stands at 20.6%, up 0.7% from the previous 12 month average.

Medium and heavy truck sales had a great month as unit volume increased by 25,000 to a SAAR of 430,000 units, a 6.2% m/m increase. Year on year sales of medium and heavy truck was up 10.2% in August.

At Gerdau, we monitor production and sales of light, medium and heavy vehicles since they consume a tremendous amount of engineered steel. In addition, the health of the automotive industry offers an important gauge on the overall strength of the US economy.