Friday, January 03, 2014

U.S. Light Vehicle Sales decrease to 15.5 million annual rate in December, Annual Sales up 7.5%

by Bill McBride on 1/03/2014 03:27:00 PM

Based on an estimate from WardsAuto, light vehicle sales were at a 15.53 million SAAR in December. That is up 2.3% from December 2012, and down 4.8% from the sales rate last month. 

This was below the consensus forecast of 16.0 million SAAR (seasonally adjusted annual rate).

For the year, most forecasts were for auto sales growth to slow in 2013 to around 4% growth or 15.0 million units. Actually sales growth were up about 7.5% to 15.5 million.

Light Vehicle Sales
Sales (millions)Annual Change
200017.42.7%
200117.1-1.3%
200216.8-1.8%
200316.6-1.1%
200416.91.4%
200516.90.5%
200616.5-2.6%
200716.1-2.5%
200813.2-18.0%
200910.4-21.2%
201011.611.1%
201112.710.2%
201214.413.4%
2013115.57.5%
1Initial estimate.

Vehicle Sales Click on graph for larger image.

This graph shows the historical light vehicle sales from the BEA (blue) and an estimate for December (red, light vehicle sales of 15.53 million SAAR from WardsAuto).

December sales were a little disappointing, but overall 2013 was solid.

The second graph shows light vehicle sales since the BEA started keeping data in 1967.

Vehicle SalesNote: dashed line is current estimated sales rate.

Unlike residential investment, auto sales bounced back fairly quickly following the recession and were a key driver of the recovery.   

Looking forward, the growth rate will slow for auto sales, and most forecasts are for around a 4% sales gain in 2014 to around 16.1 million light vehicles.