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Sunday, June 05, 2022

Vehicle Sales Mix and Heavy Trucks

by Calculated Risk on 6/05/2022 12:13:00 PM

It will be interesting to see if high gasoline prices will lead to a higher percentage of passenger car sales.

The BEA released their estimate of vehicle sales for May last week.

This graph shows the percent of light vehicle sales between passenger cars and trucks / SUVs through May 2022.

Vehicle SalesOver time the mix has changed more and more towards light trucks and SUVs.

Only when oil prices are high, does the trend slow or reverse.  

The percent of light trucks and SUVs was at 78.9% in May 2022 - just below the record high percentage of 80.0% last October.

The second graph shows heavy truck sales since 1967 using data from the BEA. The dashed line is the May 2022 seasonally adjusted annual sales rate (SAAR).

Heavy Truck Sales Heavy truck sales really collapsed during the great recession, falling to a low of 180 thousand SAAR in May 2009.  Then heavy truck sales increased to a new all-time high of 563 thousand SAAR in September 2019.

Note: "Heavy trucks - trucks more than 14,000 pounds gross vehicle weight."

Heavy truck sales really declined at the beginning of the pandemic, falling to a low of 299 thousand SAAR in May 2020.  

Heavy truck sales were at 450 thousand SAAR in May, up from 442 thousand in April, and down 10% from 501 thousand SAAR in May 2021.  If there is a slump in construction, then heavy truck sales will decline.