Coupon clippers helped clear the showrooms in May, as the industry days-supply of light vehicles dropped to 55 days on June 1, compared with 67 days a month earlier.
That was the fourth straight monthly decline. The decline was magnified by the unusually high sales rate in May, which corresponded to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 16.3 million units, said Nick Lobaccaro, auto industry analyst for Merrill Lynch & Co. in New York. If sales were at a more normal pace, the same number of units on the ground would translate to a days-supply higher than desired levels, he said in a report.
The recent coupon craze undoubtedly helped clear out inventories, with the Big 3 offering $500 to $1,000 discounts to their loyal customers - and, increasingly, honoring each other's coupons, too.
Chrysler Corp. had a 57-day supply of light vehicles, down from 68 days a month earlier.
Ford Motor Co. fell to 61 days, from 70 a month earlier. On June 1, Ford had only a 40-day supply of the Taurus.
General Motors, which started the coupon war April 10, reported a 58-day supply, down from 71 days.
Nissan Motor Corp. U.S.A. was an exception to the rule, with higher-than-average inventories. Nis-san Motor had a 114-day supply, down from 171 a month earlier.
Overall, May sales cut into a potentially troubling oversupply of light trucks, from 72 days on May 1 to 61 days. The drop in truck inventories included some of the industry's top sellers. The Chevrolet Blazer, for instance, dropped from 85 days to 59, and the Jeep Grand Cherokee, from 93 days to 68. There was a 51-day supply of cars, down from 61.