Tuesday, March 01, 2011

27% Increase in Feb. Car Sales, Highest Since 1988

Led by huge year-over-year sales gains from GM (+46.4%) and Toyota (+41.8%), U.S. auto sales increased in February by 27.3% compared to the same month last year, which is the highest annual gain in 23 years for auto sales, since a 29.7% increase in January 1988 9see bottom chart).  Except for the artificial increase in August 2009 due to "cash for clunkers," the 13.44 million units sold last month (at a seasonally adjusted annual rate) was the best month for car sales since August 2008, two and-a-half years ago (see top chart).  

Truck sales were also strong in February, with a 49% market share and a 31.7% increase over the year-ago level.  This is especially noteworthy because according to AutoNation Chairman and CEO Mike Jackson: "Pickup trucks are bought by small business entrepreneurs who have their finger on the pulse of the U.S. economy. It's an expression of confidence in the future of the economy. They don't buy until they see the prospects for business are brighter. This is small business America saying that the worst is over, I see opportunities in the future, I feel confident enough to go out and buy a new truck."

More evidence that the economic recovery is real, "has legs" (see Scott Grannis), and is being led by the manufacturing sector (see ISM report today), the "shining star" of the U.S. recovery.


At 3/05/2011 10:36 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

Truck sales were also strong in February, with a 49% market share and a 31.7% increase over the year-ago level....

With oil prices moving sharply higher and the production of light sweet crude having peaked six years ago it seems that people still have trouble learning about the energy challenges ahead of us. If the economy stays at its current level oil prices will rise and people will have trouble affording gasoline. If the price increase causes a sharp contraction we will see a rapid decrease in price of gasoline but that will not help people with falling incomes.

A few days ago I heard the news that the Saudis will use a CO2 flood to enhance oil recovery in Ghawar. That is about as bleak of a story that you can hear on the geological front. It means that even if the Saudis manage to escape the political turmoil their production levels are going to be declining much sooner and faster than the optimists ever imagined.


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