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U.S. Light-Vehicle Sales Hit 8-Year High in 2014

U.S. Light-Vehicle Sales Hit 8-Year High in 2014

Forecast U.S. LV sales in 2015 are pegged to beat 2014, which would make it first time on record that volume increased six straight years.

U.S. sales finished 2014 on a strong note, albeit slightly below expectations, and the year ended with volume of 16.44 million units, 5.8% above year-ago’s 15.53 million and the highest since 16.50 million in 2006.

Last year’s results also were nearly 60%, or some 6 million units, above the recession year of 2009, when demand tanked to a 28-year low of 10.40 million units. Sales now have increased five straight years. If deliveries in 2015 beat 2014, which they are forecast to do, it would be the first time in over eight decades on record that sales increased six straight years.

Sales have grown five consecutive years three other times, the last span being 1996 through 2000. The previous two periods were in the years emerging from the deep holes dug by the Great Depression (1933-1937) and World War II (1946-1950).

December’s volume of 1.498 million units translated to a daily selling rate of 57,623 over 26 selling days, 5.8% above same-month 2013’s 54,134 DSR (25 days).

December’s seasonally adjusted annual rate of 16.8 million units marked a decline from November’s 17.1 million, but was well above year-ago’s 15.4 million and a 10-year high for the month. Q4 2014 posted a 16.7 million SAAR, slightly below Q3 2014’s 16.8 million, but the highest for the period since 17.2 million in 2004.

Light-truck share in December recorded a 9-year any-month high of 56.3%. The year ended with light-truck share at 53.2%, also a 9-year best. Truck share is expected to grow again in 2015.

Trucks were pumped by record demand for CUVs, which posted 27.4% LV penetration in December and all-time high annual penetration of 26.9% in 2014.

Sales of pickups surged 13.9% above year-ago in December, with the Large Pickup segment up 12.2% and the Small Pickup sector, riding new products from GM, increasing 28.6%. December penetration of large pickups was 13.6%, highest for the month since 2011. Entire-2014 penetration was 12.2%, highest since 2007.

Demand for SUVs increased 9.6% in December, and were up 12.0% for the entire year. Market share also increased in full-2014 to 7.1% from 2013’s 6.7%.

December sales of large trucks were up 9.9%, with a share of 21.8% vs. 21.1% in like-2013. Year-to-date share for big trucks was 19.3%, highest in seven years.

Luxury trucks surged 12.3% in December from same-month year-ago, more than offsetting a 5.3% decline in cars. Overall, sales of luxury vehicles increased 1.6% in December. Luxury share of LVs in December was 14.9% vs. 15.6% a year ago. Luxury penetration for the entire year declined slightly from 2013 to 12.6%.

Small LVs increased sales 5.3% year-over-year in December on the strength of CUVs. Calendar-year share of 22.9% was below 2013’s 23.1%. Small-car share in entire-2014 fell to 18.5% from prior year’s 19.0%. Small CUV share increased to 3.4% from 3.0% in 2013, and Small SUVs increased share to 1.1% from 1.0%.

Middle Cars rebounded in December with a 7.8% year-over-year increase, saving the calendar-year total, which ended 0.9% above 2013, from falling below year-ago levels. However, 2014 midsize-car share of 18.6% was well below the prior year’s 19.5%.

Vans made a comeback of sorts in 2014. A December year-over-year gain of 7.0% for the entire group capped off a year with 12-month sales up 8.6%, and entire-year market share increased for both small and large van segments.

The biggest loser in 2014 was Large Cars, which ended the year with a 9.8% decline in December and deliveries down 10.7% for the year.

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