by Michael Sivak, Sivak Applied Research.
Light-duty vehicles (cars and light trucks) are being purchased primarily by individuals, while heavy trucks by companies. Therefore, an examination of the recent changes in the sales of vehicles in these two classes provides some information about the economic impact (both actual and anticipated) of the current pandemic on individuals and companies. (I have shown recently that during this pandemic light-truck sales declined less than car sales.)
Given the above rationale, the present analysis examines the sales of light-duty vehicles and heavy trucks in March through June of 2020—the first four months of the current pandemic—by comparing them with the corresponding sales in February 2020. The raw data for the calculations—annualized, seasonally adjusted vehicle sales—came from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. (Several of the values were recently updated.) The results are shown in the following table.
|Month||Change from February 2020|
|Light-duty vehicles||Heavy trucks|
The main finding is that the peak decline in the sales of light-duty vehicles was greater and it occurred earlier than the peak decline in the sales of heavy trucks. Specifically, the peak decline for light-duty vehicles was about 48% and it occurred in April 2020, compared with the peak decline for heavy trucks of about 32% in May 2020.
Michael Sivak is the managing director of Sivak Applied Research and the former director of Sustainable Worldwide Transportation at the University of Michigan.