September 2, 2020 Reading Time: 2 minutes

Sales of light vehicles totaled 15.2 million at an annual rate in August, continuing a rebound from the 8.7 million pace in April (see top chart). The pace of sales in April was the lowest on record since this data series began in 1976 and follows a run of 72 months in the 16 to 18 million range from March 2014 through February 2020. Unit vehicle sales fell significantly below the range as the 2008–9 recession began, hitting a low of just 9.0 million in February 2009. Sales began a slow recovery and returned to the 16 to 18 million range in March 2014, about 5 years after hitting the low (see top chart).

For the month of August, light-truck sales totaled 11.6 million at an annual rate, up from the 11.1 million rate in July but well ahead of the 6.8 million rate in April. Car sales also had a modest gain, rising to a 3.6 annual rate versus 3.5 in July and 2.0 in April. On a percentage basis, light-trucks posted a 4.5 percent gain in August while cars had a 1.9 percent rise.

The faster gain for light-trucks puts the light-truck share at 76.5 percent, below the 78 percent record high in May, but still completely dominating the car share of 23.5 percent. The dominant share of light-trucks continues a long-term trend (see bottom chart). As recently as February 2013, the split between cars and light-trucks (SUVs and pick-up trucks) was about even, with both segments selling about 7.76 million at an annual rate.

Robert Hughes

Bob Hughes

Robert Hughes joined AIER in 2013 following more than 25 years in economic and financial markets research on Wall Street. Bob was formerly the head of Global Equity Strategy for Brown Brothers Harriman, where he developed equity investment strategy combining top-down macro analysis with bottom-up fundamentals.

Prior to BBH, Bob was a Senior Equity Strategist for State Street Global Markets, Senior Economic Strategist with Prudential Equity Group and Senior Economist and Financial Markets Analyst for Citicorp Investment Services. Bob has a MA in economics from Fordham University and a BS in business from Lehigh University.

Get notified of new articles from Robert Hughes and AIER.
AIER - American Institute for Economic Research

250 Division Street | PO Box 1000
Great Barrington, MA 01230-1000

Contact AIER
Telephone: 1-888-528-1216 | Fax: 1-413-528-0103

Press and other media outlets contact
[email protected]

Editorial Policy

This work is licensed under a 
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License,
except where copyright is otherwise reserved.

© 2021 American Institute for Economic Research
Privacy Policy

AIER is a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit
registered in the US under EIN: 04-2121305