Tight Inventory Stands to Hamper July Sales, At Least for Some

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
tight inventory stands to hamper july sales at least for some

Fall holiday discounts aside, the height of summer is typically a good time to head out and buy a car. The weather’s good, new models are rolling into dealers, and markdowns are appearing on older stock taking up precious space. Yet 2020 is anything but a normal year.

As the industry struggles to regain the volume it once enjoyed, threadbare inventories continue to plague automakers, though not everyone’s equal in this exercise.

According to Cox Automotive, the end of June saw the national average sitting at 70 days’ supply, down 15 from a year earlier. The industry-wide average hides the fact that mainstream vehicles, led by hot-selling pickups, sat at 68 days’ supply going into July, with premium vehicles easier to come by (79 days’ supply).

Nationwide, sales of full-size pickups only ever dipped by 25 percent during the depth of the lockdown in late March and early April. Production of these crucial vehicles resumed in mid-May, but didn’t immediately ramp up, leaving some dealers unable to satisfy consumer demand.

Compact and midsize SUVs, sales of which bounced back faster than, say, compact cars and various premium segments, also sit below the national average in terms of available stock. Depending on what type of vehicles serve as an automaker’s bread and butter, July could bring plenty of turned-away customers.

Rounding out the bottom of the list, Toyota boasted the thinnest inventory (30 days’ worth, on average), less than even Subaru — an automaker known for selling just as many vehicles as it can manage to build. Toyota’s premium division, Lexus, ranked third at 44 days’ worth.

Other automakers boasting tighter-than-average inventories include Mazda, BMW, GMC, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, and Jeep.

“We believe the tighter inventory, particularly with popular brands such as Honda, Subaru, Kia and Toyota, will further dampen July sales,” said Charlie Chesbrough, senior economist at Cox.

Looking to visit a dealer guaranteed to have what you want? Head to your local Fiat retailer, as the brand that can’t seem to sell a car unsurprisingly still has plenty of items in stock. One-hundred-and-forty-nine days’ worth, to be exact. The only automaker with more inventory bloat than Fiat was Mitsubishi (156 days).

Also near the top in terms of oversupply are Buick, Jaguar, Genesis, Cadillac, and Chrysler, with the likes of Ford, Ram, Lincoln, Dodge, and Nissan sitting around last year’s average in terms of supply.

According to J.D. Power and LMC Automotive, June new vehicle sales came in 25 percent below pre-virus forecast for that month — an increase in volume, albeit not a huge one, from May.

[Image: Toyota]

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  • SaulTigh SaulTigh on Jul 12, 2020

    Cruised through dealership row today and noticed that both BMW and Mercedes are parking cars diagonal across multiple spaces. Lowest inventory I've ever seen at either. Hardly any cars at BMW, just a couple 7's and a bunch of SUVs. My dad's Honda salesman called to check on him as it's been exactly one year since he bought a CR-V. Told my dad they were down to 2 sales people and only had 20 new vehicles on the lot, all models. Mazda seemed to have decent inventory, as did the Chrysler/Ram/Jeep store.

  • Speedlaw Speedlaw on Jul 12, 2020

    I've a local Chryco-Jeep dealer nearby, and I've always used it as a barometer. They were stocked up the hills, every space, as tight as they could be...in March. Today, almost empty, down to the last grey and black dull SUV. There's a lot of empty space, which is a first. The real economic problems come in Sept-Nov. Stimulus is gone-will run out. Tax revenues have bottomed out, there will be layoffs from government. Various moratorim on eviction and collection cases will have expired. The car business will constrict like everything else....probably a good time to buy a sunny day sports car, if you can.

  • Aidian Holder I'm not interested in buying anything from a company that deliberately targets all their production in crappy union-busting states. Ford decided to build their EV manufaturing in Tennessee. The company built it there because of an anti-union legal environment. I won't buy another Ford because of that. I've owned four Fords to date -- three of them pickups. I'm shopping for a new one. It won't be a Ford Lightning. If you care about your fellow workers, you won't buy one either.
  • Denis Jeep have other cars?!?
  • Darren Mertz In 2000, after reading the glowing reviews from c/d in 1998, I decided that was the car for me (yep, it took me 2 years to make up my mind). I found a 1999 with 24k on the clock at a local Volvo dealership. I think the salesman was more impressed with it than I was. It was everything I had hoped for. Comfortable, stylish, roomy, refined, efficient, flexible, ... I can't think of more superlatives right now but there are likely more. I had that car until just last year at this time. A red light runner t-boned me and my partner who was in the passenger seat. The cops estimate the other driver hit us at about 50 mph - on a city street. My partner wasn't visibly injured (when the seat air bag went off it shoved him out of the way of the intruding car) but his hip was rather tweaked. My car, though, was gone. I cried like a baby when they towed it away. I ruminated for months trying to decide how to replace it. Luckily, we had my 1998 SAAB 9000 as a spare car to use. I decided early on that there would be no new car considered. I loathe touch screens. I'm also not a fan of climate control. Months went by. I decided to keep looking for another B5 Passat. As the author wrote, the B5.5 just looked 'over done'. October this past year I found my Cinderella slipper - an early 2001. Same silver color. Same black leather interior. Same 1.8T engine. Same 5 speed manual transmission. I was happier than a pig in sh!t. But a little sad also. I had replaced my baby. But life goes on. I drive it every day to work which takes me over some rather twisty freeway ramps. I love the light snarel as I charge up some steep hills on my way home. So, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Passat guy.
  • Paul Mezhir As awful as the styling was on these cars, they were beautifully assembled and extremely well finished for the day. The doors closed solidly, the ride was extremely quiet and the absence of squeaks and rattles was commendable. As for styling? Everything's beautiful in it's own way.....except for the VI coupe....it's proportions were just odd: the passenger compartment and wheelbase seemed to be way too short, especially compared to the VI sedan. Even the short-lived Town Coupe had much better proportions. None of the fox-body Lincolns could compare to the beautiful proportions of the Mark V.....it was the epitome of long, low, sleek and elegant. The proportions were just about perfect from every angle.
  • ToolGuy Silhouetting yourself on a ridge like that is an excellent way to get yourself shot ( Skylining)."Don't you know there's a special military operation on?"