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Vehicle Trade Data


U.S. International Trade Data
for Road Motor Vehicles


Just as for all other products, road-licensed motor vehicles exported from, or imported into the United States, are assigned product codes derived from the internationally-agreed Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) nomenclature. The all-encompassing HTS is based upon a structural model of manufacturing processes, rather than upon how products are grouped in the marketplace. Motor vehicles are classified under a rigid hierarchy of increasing generalization starting at the 10-digit level. It culminates at the 2-digit level as Chapter 87, "Vehicles Other Than Railway or Tramway Rolling-Stock, and Parts and Accessories Thereof." While all countries that participate agree to use the same descriptors down through the 6-digit level, each country may create its own sub-classes at the 10-digit level. Some countries, including the United States, also have differing degrees of specificity at the 10-digit level between imports and exports.

The Motor Vehicle Division of the Office of Aerospace and Automotive Industries' Automotive Team' (OAA) primary focus is upon road-licensed passenger vehicles and motor vehicles for the transport of goods. To facilitate the retrieval and analysis of international trade data regarding these products on a market-based model, we have created ten product groups of individual 10-digit product codes. We list these groups and their corresponding classification numbers on our Trade Data Codes Page.

Note that the HTS product codes change over time, being split, merged, created, or deleted as agreed in international negotiations. We update our groups accordingly. Some of the listed codes are not valid for current years, but are included to assure that data for products so coded for previous years can be retrieved from the U.S. Census Bureau database and assigned to the appropriate OAA group.


The OAA product groups are not "official" product subcategories, and you will not find them listed in the Harmonized Tariff System nomenclature published by the U.S. International Trade Commission for coding imports, nor in the parallel "Schedule B" published by the U.S. Census Bureau for coding exports . Some of the OAA groups combine 10-digit codes from several of the HTS/Schedule B 4-digit sub-groups to create new categories. Moreover, so that we can more closely approximate the core automotive industry, not all products contained within Chapter 87 are included in our groupings. For example, we exclude dump trucks and fire trucks from both the Medium & Heavy Straight Truck category. Golf-carts and snowmobiles are excluded from our Passenger Vehicle category.

Note that the harmonized system places station wagons, full size and minivans (both with less than 10 seats), sport utility and cross-over utility vehicles in the passenger vehicle categories (HTS 8703) without further distinction. The HS also places all vehicles with open cargo beds within the truck categories (HTS 8704), irrespective of their passenger-carrying capabilities or amenities. Also note that while the U.S. has four "used vehicle" codes at the10-digit level that capture most passenger vehicles, there is only one used truck code, that being for all weight classes of truck tractors.


Year-To-Date Trade Balance: Tables showing exports, imports, and the resultant trade balance with the world and our 5 largest supplier partners for the past five and current year-to-date may be viewed directly on our Motor Vehicle Market Quick-Facts web page. The trade table section of Quick-Facts generally is updated monthly, following a two-month lag for preparation of the source data by the Census Bureau.

Historical Data Tables: Spreadsheet tables of U.S. trade in road motor vehicles dating from 1992 for all 10 OAA product categories and all countries are available in our Trade-Facts Data File. Data is organized by category for all countries, and by country for each of the ten categories. Each of the eight downloadable zipped EXCEL files provides either total units or total dollars for either exports or imports. We try to update these tables not less than once every 6 months.

Road Motor Vehicles-Trends in Trade, 1990-1999: This report reviews and interprets U.S. trade in road motor vehicles over the past decade. A PDF document containing 21 pages of text with 11 charts. The 31 table Appendix.


U.S. Census Bureau: As a convenience for viewers, we present on our web pages the data generated by the OAA groupings. However, OAA is not the only, nor the "official" U.S. government source for trade data on the auto industry, nor do we produce custom data runs for the public. Those who are seeking data for particular product codes or for earlier years (the current coding system was adopted in 1989, but the Census Bureau has data for all prior years), should contact Census directly for assistance and pricing information.

FT900-U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services: This Census Bureau monthly press release is the primary source for most commercial news reports regarding trends in U.S. trade. Complete text of the current month's press release, as well as previous monthly press releases and annual revision data are available.

Exports and Imports of Motor Vehicles and parts by selected countries: Exhibit 18 of the FT900 press release includes a table showing trade in motor vehicles and parts with selected countries. The industry definition used by Census is broader than that of the Office of Aerospace and Automotive Industries' Automotive Team.

U.S. International Trade Commission: For do-it-yourselfers, the ITC offers direct access to the Census data base. Users may establish an off-peak hour, cost-free account, create their own groups of products at the 2, 4, 6, or 10-digit level, and specify a list of countries of interest.

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