Data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), shows that total light (cars and light truck/SUVs), vehicle sales in September were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, (SAAR) of 18.918 million (M), units, up 2.464 M units or up 15.0% from August. On a three month moving average (3MMA), basis, sales were tracking at 17.489M, up 3.7% month on month (m/m) but down 1.9% year on year (y/y). Domestic sales were tracking at a SAAR of 14.329M, (+15.3% m/m, +3.6% 3MMA m/m). Meanwhile, imports were headed towards a SAAR of 4.149 imports, (+15.4% m/m, +4.4% 3MMA m/m). Import market share was 21.9% for the month, up 0.7 percentage points from October 2016.
Figure 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 17 consecutive months when examined on a 3MMA y/y basis. The good news is that September sales rebounded sharply, reversing the downward slide.
Per Ward’s automotive, day’s inventory in October stood at 65 days, down six days from September’s number, and down eight days on a y/y comparison.
Figure 2 breaks-out auto, (car sales) from total light vehicle sales from 2010 to present. In September, car sales bounced back, up 800,000 units or 13.9%, m/m to a SAAR of 6.539M. On a 3MMA domestic car sales were up 4.4% m/m to a SAAR of 6.074M. However, when examined on 3MMA year on year, (y/y) basis, sales were down 10.7%. Domestic car sales were at a SAAR of 5.018M, up 641,000 units or 14.6%. On a 3MMA domestic car sales were higher by 4.3%. On a 3MMA y/y comparison car sales were down 8.7%. Import sales rose by 159,000 units or +11.7%, m/m to a SAAR of 1.521M. On a 3MMA import car sales were down by 16.4% y/y. Import market share for cars stood at 23.3%, down 2.1 percentage points from October 2016.
Figure 3 shows light truck sales history from 2010 to present. In September, light truck sales jumped by 1.664 units or +15.5%, m/m to a SAAR of 12.379M. On a 3MMA domestic light truck sales were up 3.4% m/m and higher by 3.5% y/y. Domestic light truck sales were at a SAAR of 9.311M, stronger by 1.260M units or 15.7%. On a 3MMA domestic light truck sales were higher by 3.2% m/m and were stronger by 0.8% y/y. Imported truck sales increased by 394,000 units or 17.6%, m/m to a SAAR of 2.628M. On a 3MMA import light truck car sales were up 4.1% m/m and by 12.2% y/y. Import market share for light truck stands at 21.2%, up 2.6 percentage points from October 2016.
Medium and heavy truck sales increased by 10,000 to a SAAR of 440,000 units, a 2.3% m/m increase. On a 3MMA medium and heavy truck sales increased by 8,000 units or 1.9%. Year on year sales of medium and heavy truck were up 13.6% in September.
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.