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Motor Vehicle Sales: Car Sales Slump, Trucks Strong

February 2, 2017
Bottom Line: Motor vehicle sales fell in January, hitting the lowest level in 6 months as December's incentive and discounts expired. Adding to pressure on car sales were higher financing costs. Bankrate.com reported that the average 5-year auto loan rate was 3.24% in January, finally moving higher -- but still not nearly as much as mortgage and Treasury rates. Sales of automobiles led the decline while truck sales remained steady. The trend in car sales has been down for two years, while the trend in truck sales has remained steadily higher since the recession. The combination of these trends means total vehicle sales have been volatile but sideways for the last year.

Motor Vehicle Sales FELL by 4.4% in January to 17.5 million units annualized, compared with market expectations for a smaller decline to 17.6 million.

In January, sales of automobiles FELL by 9.3% to 6.3 million units while sales of light trucks FELL by 1.3% to 11.2 million units.

Domestic motor vehicle sales FELL by 4.2% to 13.6 million units. Sales of domestic automobiles FELL by 9.4% to 4.8 million while sales of domestic light trucks FELL by 1.1% to 8.9 million. Imported motor vehicle sales FELL by 5.1% to 3.9 million units. Sales of imported automobiles FELL by 9.2% to 1.6 million units while sales of imported light trucks FELL by 2.1% to 2.3 million.