U.S. inventories on Oct. 1 rose slightly to a 57-day supply as automakers roll out 2011 models, but they remain tighter than normal for this time of year.
Manufacturers continue to keep their slump-driven commitments to produce only what the market demands and to slash inventories. By almost any measure -- days supply, units of inventory, seasonal variations -- fewer vehicles sit unsold on dealership lots these days.
The current inventory of 2.2 million is the highest unit total since June 1, 2009 but lower than any month before that in records dating back to 1992. It's the seventh straight month stocks have been below the old industry standard of 60 days of supply, and the 15th straight month with supplies below the 2000-09 average for that month.
The seven largest automakers are at near optimal supply levels, ranging from a high of 69 days at General Motors Co. to a low of 36 days at Hyundai-Kia Automotive.
Struggling American Suzuki is the only manufacturer that is obviously overstocked, with a 127-day supply as of Oct. 1.
Even on a nameplate level, most automakers have balanced their supply with demand. Exceptions include shortages of models that are being phased out, such as the Lincoln Town Car (26 days of supply) or the Chevrolet Cobalt (30 days).