Autos remain weak

Auto sales still a weak spot for the economy, but no big plunge yet.

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The move away from the American SUV continues, with the number of domestic light trucks sold last month down 3.4% from the previous year, making 2006 the worst August of the last 4 years. So far, however, it is not as bad as the complete plunge we saw in September and October in the wake of last year’s hurricanes.

August domestic car sales were the lowest of three out of the last four years, though down only 1.1% from August 2005.

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This is not going to help a slowing economy, but it is not enough by itself to cause an actual downturn. As with housing, however, one could imagine things turning worse quickly with a change in consumer sentiment.

As in previous months, sales of foreign-made vehicles are still doing reasonably well.

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4 thoughts on “Autos remain weak

  1. mh497

    The cummulative numbers on domestic light trucks for 2006 look pretty bad, and since the US automakers are so heavily dependent on them, the path forward looks rather rough. Ford is having one hell of a problem dealing with this.
    It’s pretty obvious the path we’re headed in.

  2. Bill Conerly

    I looked at car and light truck sales divided by population, and there’s no sign of recent overbuying. 2002-2005 sales were very close to their long-run average. 2006 is on track to come in slightly lower than average. This contrasts markedly with the housing market, where it’s pretty much impossible to tell a story other than overbuying in recent years.

  3. 2slugbaits

    Wouldn’t you expect some kind of correlation between light truck sales and new home construction? Afterall, a lot of light truck sales are for the construction industry.

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