Supply steady at 60 days

Automakers started July with a 60-day supply of unsold vehicles, the level traditionally considered an ideal balance — enough to meet demand but not high enough to require discounting.

The industrywide supply level is unchanged from June 1.

All seven of the best-selling automakers are in a tight cluster — each barely changed from a month earlier.

There are only two outliers.

One is Volkswagen brand, which is having a miserable sales year. VW’s July 1 supply rose to 113 days from 94 days a month earlier.

And full-sized pickups are plentiful, even considering that manufacturers normally carry more to meet demand for multiple cab sizes and powertrains. General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group all had more than a 100-day supply.

Measured by units, the industry’s 3.55 million unsold light vehicles

on hand July 1 fell 1 percent from June 1.

That’s 6 percent lower than on March 1, when fierce winter storms slowed sales enough to raise, briefly, some concerns about excess production.

Inventory is essentially a buffer that reflects how well manufacturers adjust their production to meet demand.

Relatively stable inventories suggest automakers are maintaining steady production without having to use large incentives to clear surpluses.

And that’s what is happening in the U.S. marketplace.

Average transaction prices are rising, incentive levels remain near multiyear lows, and U.S. auto sales are on track to rise for the fifth straight year.

You can reach Jesse Snyder at -- Follow Jesse on Twitter:

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