Motor Vehicle Sales: Rebound in Sep suggests autos will add to 3Q GDP

October 3, 2016
Bottom Line: Motor vehicle sales rose moderately in September after falling in August. A rebound in automobile sales led the beat, growing at their fastest pace since February, while truck sales remained solid. The Q3 sales average is 7.7% above the Q2 level. Q2 was -2.3% below Q1 level. Thus, this suggests a sharp a acceleration in consumer auto spending Q3. At roughly 12% of the consumption component of GDP, auto sales will likely be a significant, positive contributor to 3rd Quarter GDP. That said the longer-term trend in auto sales has lost momentum since peaking in October of last year and bears watching. Motor Vehicle Sales ROSE by 4.4% in September to 17.7 million units annualized, compared with market expectations for a smaller increase to 17.5 million. In September, sales of automobiles ROSE by 6.9% to 7.0 million units while sales of light trucks ROSE by 2.8% to 10.7 million units. Domestic motor vehicle sales ROSE by 5.6% to 13.9 million units. Sales of domestic automobiles ROSE by 8.2% to 5.3 million while sales of domestic light trucks ROSE by 4.3% to 8.6 million. Imported motor vehicle sales FELL by 0.3% to 3.8 million units. Sales of imported automobiles ROSE by 3.0% to 1.7 million units while sales of imported light trucks FELL by 2.8% to 2.1 million.