U.S. Vehicle Inventories Exceptionally Lean Going Into Fall

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Not that it should be any surprise with pricing creeping up, but U.S. vehicle inventories are some of the lowest we’ve seen in roughly a decade. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to get a solid estimate on supplies as many automakers no longer have the balls to conduct monthly reports, at least not any they’re willing to share. The few that still do have been a little light on the lot, however.

Going into fall, we’d expect to see supplies around the 60-day mark with about a quarter of those vehicles representing the upcoming model year. Mainstream brands seem to be running with a lot fewer cars this month. On Monday, Automotive News estimated that September was probably representing the lightest industry-wide supply of vehicles since October of 2011. Meanwhile, Cox Automotive has the industry sitting on 56 days worth of cars — noting that national inventories shrank to 2.26 million vehicles, or about 870,000 fewer from the year before.

From AN:

Most automakers no longer report monthly sales or inventory levels. However, among those that do, Subaru reported just a 16-day supply of vehicles, while Toyota, Hyundai-Kia, Honda, Mazda and Volvo all had at least a 40-day supply.

Cox Automotive estimates that luxury-brand inventories saw the sharpest declines in August, dropping to a 56-day supply from 65 days in July. Slowed model-year changeovers also are impacting supply levels, with only 2.5 percent of current inventory representing the 2021 model year, compared with 19 percent of inventory levels a year ago.

Pandemic related production cuts have played a major factor. Customers have started returning to dealerships to deplete their reserves and scoop up whatever the industry has managed to slap together since regional lockdowns have been eased. This has also delayed model year transitions by months. For example, the new Cadillac Escalade was supposed to enter production in July but may have to wait until Q4. Ford’s Mustang Mach-E and F-150 have also been delayed, along with the Acura MDX and Nissan Frontier.

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