The U.S. auto industry's inventory of unsold new vehicles declined last month by 21.4 percent, with both car and truck inventories falling close to the ideal monthly level.
The decline comes on the heels of strong February auto sales. February sales, which beat industry expectations, were the second-highest February total in the last 10 years.
The industry held a 66-day supply of cars and trucks as of March 1, down from an 84-day supply a month earlier. That includes a 75-day supply of light trucks and a 58-day supply of cars.
The 66-day supply compares with 61 on March 1, 2000. A 60-day supply is considered normal.
There were 3.72 million unsold new vehicles as of March 1. That compares with 3.75 million Feb. 1.
A DaimlerChrysler effort to trim inventory with incentives seems to be working. DaimlerChrysler moved from a 79-day supply Feb. 1 to a 55-day supply March 1, a 30.4 percent decrease.
DaimlerChrysler substantially cut its light-truck stock by 31 percent, from a 90-day supply Feb. 1 to a 62-day supply March 1.
The quick selldown bodes well for full shifts at auto plants in the spring, said Paul Taylor, chief economist at the National Automobile Dealers Association. Incentives have helped vehicle sales, with the Oldsmobile Aurora sales up 452 percent compared with a year ago, Taylor said.
General Motors' inventory plummeted from a 102-day supply Feb. 1 to a 75-day supply March 1.
Ford Motor Co. trimmed its inventory from a 97-day supply Feb. 1 to 74 days March 1.