Data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), shows that total light (cars and light truck/SUVs), vehicle sales in April were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, (SAAR) of 12.346 million (M), units, down 55,000 units or 0.4% from March.

auto-fig1Figure 1 shows the history of light vehicle sales (domestic plus imports), from 2010 to present. After a long slide between January and August 2017, sales have roared back to near record levels on an annualized basis, increasing 1.2% 3MMA y/y

Figure 2auto-fig2 breaks-out auto, (car sales) from total light vehicle sales from 2010 to present. In April, car sales fell 186,000 units or -3.4%, m/m to a SAAR of 5.219M. On a 3MMA domestic car sales were down 13.7% y/y. Domestic SAAR car sales were at 3.963M, down 184,000 units or -4.4% m/m. On a 3MMA domestic car sales were down 1.8% m/m. Import sales dipped by 3,000 units or -0.2%, m/m to a SAAR of 1.225M. On a 3MMA import car sales were down -2.1% m/m. Import market share for cars stands at 24.0%, up slightly (+0.6 percentage points) as its previous 12 month average.

auto-fig3Figure 3 shows light truck sales history from 2010 to present. In April, light truck sales fell by 55,000 units 0.4%, m/m to a SAAR of 12.346M. On a 3MMA domestic light truck sales were lower by 0.9% m/m. Domestic SAAR light truck sales were 9.095, down 135,000 units or -1.5% m/m. On a 3MMA domestic light truck sales were down 0.7%. Import sales increased by 38,000 units or 1.4%, m/m to a SAAR of 2.769M. On a 3MMA import light truck car sales were up 1.4% m/m. Import market share for light truck was at 22.4%, 1.4 percentage points higher than the previous 12 month average.

Consumers clearly have a preference for light trucks, (which includes cross-overs, small, medium and large SUV and vans) over passenger cars. Cars sales were down 13.7% 3MMA this April compared to April 2017, while light trucks managed a 9.5% 3MMA y/y sales gain.

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 U.S. economy.