U.S. Vehicle Inventories Exceptionally Lean Going Into Fall

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
u s vehicle inventories exceptionally lean going into fall

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.

[Image: GLF Media/Shutterstock]

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16 of 35 comments
  • Jkross22 Jkross22 on Sep 14, 2020

    Inventory for cars is akin to inventory for many consumer goods right now - awfully low. It's not because of demand. It's because they can't make them and demand has fallen dramatically. Welcome to the recession. Bathrooms are to your left. Hope you brought your own TP.

    • See 7 previous
    • Highdesertcat Highdesertcat on Sep 14, 2020

      @CKNSLS Sierra SLT I noticed that all RV hookups on the nearby military installations were all taken. Must be people getting away from the infected areas and hiding out.

  • Brettc Brettc on Sep 14, 2020

    16 days of Subaru supply makes sense. The Subaru dealership near my house keeps rearranging their very limited inventory, I guess to make it look like they actually have some new cars to choose from. On the other hand, the local Nissan dealership still has plenty of selection and even has overflow cars parked at the mall.

    • See 5 previous
    • Highdesertcat Highdesertcat on Sep 14, 2020

      @highdesertcat I believe you.

  • Lou_BC You'd think cops would have an understanding of the laws they are supposed to enforce.
  • Merlyn I’m on my second Spark and love it! I can pass any car I’ve never had a problem going up a hill it does just fine. As for cargo I can fit three suitcases, two book bags and still have the front seat for a passenger. Not sure what point this guy is trying to make. I have hand free phone service and Sirius radio plug in my phone and have navigation. I would buy another spark in a heartbeat.
  • Buickman I won't own one and I'll be happy!
  • Jeanbaptiste Ever since y’all started sending your damn geese down here we’re just been waiting for one of you to show up.
  • 3SpeedAutomatic Drove a rental Cherokee for several days at the beginning of this year. Since the inventory of rental cars is still low, this was a 2020 model with 48k miles and V6. Ran fine, no gremlins, graphics display was easy to work, plenty of power, & very comfortable. Someone must of disarmed the lane assistance feature for the steering wheel never shook (YES!!!!!!!!). However, this woman's voice kept nagging me about the speed limit (what's new!?!?!?!).I was impressed enough to consider this a prime candidate to replace my 11 yr old Ford Escape. Might get a good deal with the close out of the model. Time will tell. 🚗🚗🚗