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US Light Duty Vehicle Sales Fall 15.5% for August 2008 Year-on-Year; Light Trucks Increase Their Market Share

The new sales market share of passenger cars and trucks, plotted against the average US price of gasoline (green line). Click to enlarge.

Total sales of light duty vehicles in the US in August 2008 fell 15.5% to 1,249,793 units from 1,478,274 units in August 2007, according to data provided by Autodata. Passenger car sales dropped 7.7% to 628,947 units from 681,130, while light truck sales plunged 22.1% to 620,846 units from 797,144 the year before.

Although the August results mark the sixth straight month that sales of passenger cars exceed sales of light trucks, the gap between the two was the narrowest of those six months—cars 50.3%, light trucks 49.7%.

GM. GM reported sales of 308,817 vehicles in August, its best monthly total in 2008, although still down 20.4% from August 2007. GM attributed the strong results to its incentive program offering employee discounts for everyone. The automaker has extended the program through the end of September. Total car sales were down 13.9% to 124,441 units, while total truck sales were down 24.1% to 182,844 units.

Chevrolet Silverado, Avalanche and GMC Sierra pickups had their strongest total sales month since last August, with more than 80,000 vehicles sold. Chevrolet Tahoe, Suburban and GMC Yukon full-size utilities had their best performance of the year. Overall, GM August truck sales (excluding crossovers) declined 25.6% compared with a year ago.

Chevrolet retail car sales were up 18%, Pontiac retail car sales increased 11% and Cadillac retail car sales were up 10% compared with last August. Cadillac CTS dominated the mid-car luxury category with retail sales increasing 87% compared with the same month a year ago.

GM’s midsized crossovers—Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia and Saturn Outlook—together accounted for more than 14,600 vehicle sales in the month, with a retail sales increase of 29% compared with a year ago.

GM hybrid vehicles continue to gain sales, with 530 hybrid Chevrolet Tahoe, 267 GMC Yukon and 1 Cadillac Escalade 2-mode SUVs delivered. There were 388 Chevrolet Malibu, 26 Saturn Aura and 417 Vue hybrids sold in August. For the month, a total of 1,629 hybrid vehicles were delivered, with 7,096 hybrids sold so far this year.

Toyota. Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), USA reported August sales of 211,533 vehicles, a decrease of 9.4% from last August. Total passenger car sales (Toyota and Lexus) were down 4.3% to 129,622 units. Total light truck sales were down 16.4% to 81,911 units.

Toyota Division passenger car sales (down 3.4% from last August) were led by Camry and Camry Hybrid, which posted combined sales of 44,064 units, up 3.3% over August 2007. Corolla recorded sales of 29,443 units for the month. With limited availability, the Prius mid-size gas-electric hybrid posted August sales of 13,463 units, down 4.2% from August 2007. Yaris reported sales of 9,474 units for the month, up 20.5% over the year-ago month.

TMS posted August sales of 19,529 hybrid vehicles, down 3.7% from August 2007. TMS calendar-year-to-date hybrid sales totaled 185,051 units, down 2.6% from the same period in 2007.

Ford. Ford, Lincoln, Mercury and Volvo sales were down 26.6% in August 2008 year-on-year to 155,690 units. (Volvo was down 48.8% to 4,669 units.) Sales of Ford’s SUVs were down 53% to 10,852 from 23,087; trucks and vans were down 38.5% to 54,565 units; cars dropped 8.9% to 52,677; crossovers dropped 1.3% to 32,927. Total light-duty truck sales were down 32.3% to 98,344 units.

However, Ford Focus sales were up 23% and Escape sales were up 17% versus a year ago.

Honda. American Honda Motor  posted August total vehicle sales of 146,855, a decline of 7.3% compared to record-setting August 2007 results. Total car sales were down 5.1% to 86,827 units; total truck sales were down 10.l% to 60,028 units.

Honda models showing increased sales included the all-new Pilot, up 18.6% to 11,276; Civic, up 5.3% to 30,052; and the Civic Hybrid, up 47.7% to 3,105. The MDX was Acura’s top-selling model, posting 5,180 units while sales of the TL sedan increased 0.2 percent to 5,000.

Nissan. Nissan North America, Inc. (NNA) once again countered the trend, with a 13.6% in August 2008 sales to 108,493 units. Total car sales (Nissan and Infiniti) decreased 0.8% to 56,476 units, while total truck sales jumped 34.8% to 52,017 units.

Chrysler. Chrysler sales dropped 34% year-on-year to 110,235 units in August. Total car sales were down 39% to 26,016 units while total truck sales dropped 33% to 84,219. The Dodge Grand Caravan posted sales of 9,422 units, nearly flat when compared with August 2007 sales. The all-new Chrysler Town & Country posted increased sales of 10,182 units in August, up 15% compared with August 2007 sales.



Looks like manufactures finally lowered prices enough on trucks to get people to buy them. Combined with a slight reprieve in gas prices (look gas is under $4/gal again, it's cheap!) and truck sales match car sales again.

Look at the big jump in Civic Hybrid sales compared to last year - looks like a lot of people who can't find a Prius are buying the next best thing. I'd bet that Camry Hybrid sales are also up significantly.

It will be interesting to see what Civic Hybrid sales do after Honda officially announces their new dedicated hybrid today.


It appears the overall trend of people simply not buying anything new continues. Partly due to the economy, but I believe in part due to so many promises on the horizon. I know my wife has decided to keep her current vehicle a bit longer (she wants an Escape hybrid)until there is more competition and availability in that market.


Don't read too much into the trend. What did the 12 months of 2007 look like? 2006? I wonder if August is always a good month for trucks relative to summer months. Does the general 12 month shape we see in 2008 show up every year? If so, then it means that folks are switching from trucks to cars in 2008 and that this is just a seasonal shift not indicative of a trend.

Anybody know what the monthly 2007 or 2006 data looks like?

Dan A

Well all this proves is that if you're giving $10,000+ on incentives for trucks/large SUVs, they will move off the lot to a certain extent. The auto companies have seen the writing on the wall, they've slashed the number of shifts and closed down numerous truck/SUV plants.


It seems silly and moronic that people buy purely on the whim of gas prices on the month of the buy, people can't be that stupid to not think ahead can they? There got to be more to it!


The incentives played a part and the falling price at the pump didn't hurt. But the predictions of $150 - $200 for a barrel of oil did not come true. I think there were a lot of people that have a need for a truck or SUV that have been sitting on the sidelines just waiting to see what happened. Well, the summer driving season didn't exist, the 'Storm of the Century' didn't arrive and the dollar is getting stronger.



There are definitely a lot of tradesmen and suburbanites that "need" a truck. I recently returned from France and Ireland. They have very few trucks the size of a Ford F150, Chev 1500, or Dodge 1500. Much smaller there. Much more fuel efficient. We know when the need guys are joined by the "want" guys. I know we will be really sunk if Chevrolet revives the moronic " Ah wanna draaaave a truuuuk" commercial. Lets hope the smaller pickups get the same fuel efficienty treatment as cars.
Aside..... do you know how many F150s Ford sold in Texas alone in 2007?



When GM and Ford depend on trucks and SUVs for profits, this is a bad trend. They could have changed their ways years ago, but waited until $4 per gallon of gasoline prices crushed them. That does not look like smart management to me. The rank and file will suffer for the bad management yet again and will continue to do so until something fundamentally changes.



There is a huge difference between a European suburbanite and a DFW suburbanite. Population density and the detached single family home is the #1 difference. None of the top 5 activities in France (Football{soccer},Opera,rugby,tennis and basket racing)would even make a Texan's top ten. Likewise very few Europeans go fishing, camping, hunting and 4 wheelin.

The problem is not that a guy owns a truck. The problem is we can put robots on another planet but somehow we can't build a PU thats gets better than 16mpg.



The Dodge 2500 with the cummins diesel will routinely get 21 to 24 MPG depending on driver and axle/OD. I spoke to one oner of said vehicle who drove from Kalispel, MT to Wenatchee, WA and claimed 30 MPG. He said he cheated, though, he had a $450 custom chip in place of Dodge std. I also talked to a rancher near Omak, WA who had a 1999 Ford 250 with the 7.3L engine and he claimed 22mpg pulling a horse trailer with steed inside. Diesels in bigger pickup trucks(never talked to Duramax owners) can routinely get in excess 20mpg. Soon several of these manufacturers will put a smaller diesel into smaller pickups. I will venture a guess that prudent eco-drivers (ie non-Texans) will be able to routinely get 25+ mpg.

PS I can blast Texans because I am no longer one.


I find it interesting that so many people feel suffering for a cause is automatically the best response. Yes, we can get better mileage in light trucks without necessarily making them smaller. It won't happen without an economic incentive to do so. Hopefully being burned twice for making their profits on least efficient vehicles on the market will provide the incentive necessary for the U.S.-based producers to strive to avoid it happening a third time.


The new emissions regulations are killing the improved economy of the diesels. The Ford trucks went from around 18MPG with the 6.0L to around 13MPG with the 6.4L. That was mostly due to the regeneration cycle that is needed to clean the particulate filter to meet the current and upcoming standards for particulate matter. This is and will continue to be installed on diesels to meet this new standard. I have also heard of the 7.3l getting around the 20 mark. Why do you think there was a drop in MPG even as the displacement dropped in 2003 with the 6.0L? It was because of the new emissions regulations that required the use of EGR systems and other devices to drop the nox to much lower levels. The use of small diesels will not be able to provide the improvement in fuel economy that you want due to the emissions regulations we in the US have chosen. There is a trade off clean air or low CO2 and good fuel economy. The use of the chip you reference gets that increase in economy by increasing boost and changing fuel timing. What does that do? It increases NOx and PM output, making the rig not meet clean air standards. Your friend with the ford truck and the chip that claims 30MPG is a liar or the trip was just down a pass. That being said, most of the fuel guzzling rigs on the road today are gas powered.


So your telling me that not are deisels 25% more effecient than their gas counterparts. But, you can buy aftermarket products DeiselGeek,Upsolute, Rocketchip,Workhorse,DigiPD.....that increases mpg's by another 20%.

So why is it that GM,Toyota,Ford,Nissan,Dymler,Vw and Honda spent more than $300 million last year fighting new Cafe standards??????

Dan A

Ok kids I'll put the controversy to rest. Yes, there is a sizable population that needs pickup trucks. There are also a large number of people who own pickup trucks that don't need them. The difference now is that now the humiliation of a $100+ fillup far surpasses any feeling of being macho driving one.

Yes with the emissions regulations that came into effect this year much of the gains that are inherent to compression ignition engines are lost. The aftermarket companies make chips that make cause the fuel controls to be changed in such a way to increase power therefore you can use the throttle less. In doing that they raise the emissions level and combustions pressures and temp's to a level that is outside the design limits of the engine and outside the legal standards. Without the emissions devices and programming to make diesels safe for our air yes they return a 25% increase in fuel consumption when compared to a similar sized spark ignition engine, but not when you make them not foul the air. As for CAFE the automakers wanted the freedom to offer what the market may want. They felt that the regulations would tie their hands in offering products that people may want in the future. The market already has done WAY more to improve fuel ecnonomy than regulation could have done.



You are partially correct, the product category I alluded to was too broad. People, please do some research before you buy. Some of the tuning boxes and power chips especially the older technologies are FMS (Fuel Management Systems) ONLY. However, the newer 'chips' they are actually programs now, no physical hard chip, manage not only the fuel but timing, boost(turbo) and the re-circulatory system. Most models sold in the US are de-tuned to fit or wrap around some Cafe threshold. Nearly every diesel that has been produced by the car companies over the last decade can get increased fuel efficiency AND lower emissions with a proper electronic tune.


It was my contention that people who drive pickups and large SUVs that do not really need them increase our oil imports. It was seen by many on this site that it is their freedom to do so and the fact that it affects us all is the way it goes.



The guy with the 2001 DODGE diesel from Kalispel (with the chip)claimed 30mpg. The rancher from Omak with the 1999? Ford 7.3L diesel claimed just over 20mpg (with 5th wheel horse trailer in tow).

I concur with the statements about fuel usage and pollution. I don't think, however, that a national standard is necessary or wanted especially in long driving distance states like TX, WY, MT, ND, SD, UT,etc.... big distance between cities and mostly open spaces. We had separate and more stringent controls in CA (they still do)long before Feds got involved. If you lived between Sacramento and the Oregon border you wonder about the need for tight pollution controls when most of the pollution blows in from the SF bay area (except if they still burn rice stubble).... same from Stockton to Bakersfield.

If the rules were applied to specific areas/states where the rules are really effective, I think the savings in fuel in the broad, nearly empty, expanses of USA would certainly help the imported oil problem.

Back in the early 60's, one of my neighbors had a VW truck with the same 4 banger that I had in my VW Van. That worked..had to use gears to get up beyond Auburn and Blue canyon to Truckee,... but it worked. VW has had for several years now a compliant diesel in the Jettta and other TDI's that routinely get over 45mpg. Seems to me that a proven engine placed into a smaller (like the 60s version VW pickup) more modern truck frame would be an excellent small truck... Maybe they already have that in Europe. Makes a lot of sense to me for the USA. Especially outfitted for the surburbanites.(4 doors and small cargo bed)


Texas Teed

We have a successful business (until recently) renting clean rock and gravel fill to truck owners who need payload. Our deal is they rent the load for 30, 60, 90 days and then return it in good conditional after the lease is up.

Our Texas facility alone generated $2.2M leasing faux payloads in 2006-7. Do not underestimate the value of appearances when it comes to guys and their trucks. We take it to the bank every other day.


These stats seem to demonstrate that we will buy just about any monster vehicle if the price is low enough, regarless if we need it or not.

What an odd behavior.

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