The Motor Vehicle Sales Report, the first component of the Retail Sales Report, shows that unit autos sales for December came in at an annualized rate of 13.6 million—the same rate for November.
Domestic auto sales totaled 10.3 million units, which fell short of the consensus of 10.5 million units by industry analysts. The total auto sale figure of 10.6 million falls in line with analysts’ expectations (10.6 million.) Industry analysts’ numbers ranged from 13.4 million to 14.2 million.
In November, domestic auto sales reached 10.3 million units, a 2.8 percent increase. Imports recorded 3.3 million units sold and a 4.9 percent increase. In October, sales increased 1.2 percent.
“Consensus” refers to the combine projections by market analysts of what a company or industry will do in the future.
The vehicle sales metrics comprises the second part of the Retail Sales Report and makes up 20 percent of the Retail Sales Report’s total sales figure. The Motor Vehicle Sales Report provides the first solid numbers on monthly retail sales.
The report has two parts, domestic sales and foreign sales (imports). Vehicles manufactured in North American facilities—U.S., Mexico or Canada, and sold here, comprises domestic sales. Vehicles made elsewhere but sold in this country make up foreign sales.
The report focuses on “light vehicle” sales, which covers passenger cars and light truck, minivans and sports utility vehicles—up to a gross weight of 14,000 pounds.
U.S. Auto Makers Show Second Straight Year of Growth
In 2008, vehicle sales dropped to 13.2 million units, sending the industry to its worse sales figures since 1992. In November 2008, US auto industry and United Auto Workers executives flew to Washington D.C. to solicit Congress and the White House for a subsequent bailout.
The 13.6 million units, annual rate in November exhibited strength unseen in the auto sector since the “Cash for Clunkers” initiative. In August 2009, the numbers were 14.2 million units at an annual rate. Even with the nation-wide initiative to spur vehicle sales, Edmunds.com reported that U.S. automakers had its lowest sales figure in 30 years – 10.4 million units.
For 2011, the big three, General Motors and Ford Motor Co., and Chrysler claim double-digit sales increase for 2011. Chrysler reported a 26 percent increase. General Motors came in at 13 percent and Ford Motor Co., 11 percent. The Japanese car manufacturer Nissan reported a 15 percent increase in its U.S. sales.
The numbers represent the best performance for the U.S. auto industry since 2008. December was a huge month for the automakers. Chrysler’s sales increased 37 percent. Ford and General Motors experienced sales increases of ten percent and five percent, respectively.
Economists, analysts, and investors closely track motor vehicle sales, along with other indicators, to gain insights into consumer spending. Businesses and fleet sales or car rental companies purchase a large portion of vehicles sold, but consumer spending contributes about two-thirds to the nation’s gross national product.
Historically, motor vehicle sales, along with other indicators, signal the level of consumer confidence, or lack of confidence, in the economy.