The motor vehicle industry is an important component of the manufacturing output of the United States. Over the previous four quarters (up to the Third Quarter of 2001), motor vehicle manufacturing accounted for 19.3 percent of all durable goods manufacturing in the United States. (NIPA table 1.3)
The domestic production level of motor vehicles is dependent on other factors beyond the domestic demand for motor vehicle transportation: Foreign trade is playing an increasingly important role in the domestic automotive market. The value in real terms (1996 dollars) of U.S. motor vehicle-related net imports increased from 50.7 billion dollars in 1992 to 114.0 billion dollars in 2001. (NIPA table 4.4)
The production of medium and heavy trucks can be used as a gauge of commercial expectations from the standpoint of shipping capacity. Shippers may buy more road freight handling vehicles to expand capacity to meet an expected increase in demand. Light trucks and cars are used primarily for personal transportation. The production of light trucks has grown the most since 1992. Income growth over the past decade has helped drive consumer demand for more expensive personal transportation like SUVs.
|Motor Vehicle Assemblies||Feb-02||Mar-02|
|Light trucks (millions of units)||6.58||6.70|
|Percent change from previous month||-4.15||1.92|
|Cars (millions of units)||5.49||5.19|
|Percent change from previous month||8.25||-5.36|
|Medium and heavy trucks (millions of untis)||0.23||0.23|
|Percent change from previous month||8.37||-0.43|
NOTES: The dip in assemblies in mid-1998 was caused by a strike at General Motors in June and July.
An assembly is equal to the assembly of the entire vehicle.
Seasonal factors and underlying data for car, light truck, and medium and heavy truck production are available on the Board's web site: http://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/G17/mvsf.htm.
Data from December 2001 to March 2002 are preliminary.
SOURCE: Federal Reserve, "Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization" Statistical Release; Apr. 16, 2002; available at: http://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/g17/download.htm.