As gas prices fall, light truck sales top cars in every state

Andrey Kamenov

Andrey Kamenov, Ph.D. Probability and Statistics

Vehicle sales in the U.S. bottomed out in 2009. The financial crisis hit light truck sales especially hard — the numbers here fell by more than 40 percent. In comparison, car sales saw a more modest 30 percent decrease. High gasoline prices in 2008 also certainly didn’t help in keeping sales afloat.

After a few years of steady recovery, the vehicle sales dynamic has been somewhat mixed in the recent years: You can observe this phenomenon in the chart below.

The growth in light truck sales seems to be as strong as ever; 2015 sales topped the previous years’ number by more than a million vehicles. In the same year, car sales saw a decrease for the first time since 2009. In 2016, the dynamic continued — light truck sales kept growing, while car sales fell even further.

Even if we don’t include pickups, more SUVs/CUVs were sold in 2016 than cars (although the numbers are relatively close). These two categories account for two in every five vehicles sold, with the majority of the others being pickups.

Of course, nationwide numbers don’t tell the whole story. In California, only 62 SUVs/CUVs are sold per 100 cars. In Texas, the numbers are roughly the same. In New York, significantly more sport/crossover utility vehicles are sold. And, unsurprisingly, especially many utility vehicles are sold in the Mountain states — “regular” cars only account for a third of all sales here.

Another thing to notice here is the strong correlation between the share of light trucks and average snow levels; West Virginia provides a strong example.


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About Andrey Kamenov

Andrey Kamenov

Andrey Kamenov, Ph.D. Probability and Statistics

Andrey Kamenov is a data scientist working for Advameg Inc. His background includes teaching statistics, stochastic processes and financial mathematics in Moscow State University and working for a hedge fund. His academic interests range from statistical data analysis to optimal stopping theory. Andrey also enjoys his hobbies of photography, reading and powerlifting.

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