Automakers added 126,000 vehicles to U.S. inventories in October despite strong retail sales.
The 2.3 million units on hand Nov. 1 are the most since 2.4 million on June 1, 2009, but the current sales pace is substantially greater than it was then. Manufacturers had a 66-day supply Nov. 1, based on the October sales rate. That's up from 57 days a month earlier, but an increase is normal this time of year, when automakers have both old and new model year vehicles on hand.
A year earlier, for example, supplies increased 10 days between Oct. 1 and Nov. 1.
The current supply remains below the 2000-09 Nov. 1 average of 72 days, a sign that manufacturers are sticking to pledges to tighten inventory controls.
The 65-day supply of light trucks is less than the 67 days for cars. Usually manufacturers and dealers stock more trucks because of the variety of powertrain and payload combinations that truck customers require. But truck sales surged 24 percent in October, compared with a 4 percent increase for cars.
"The pent-up demand we've seen on the retail side is predominantly on the truck side," said Bob Carter, general manager of the Toyota brand. He said Toyota had rebuilt its inventory of the Tacoma to 10,000 after a production shift and would start promoting the compact pickup.
Unsold stock increased for each major automaker. The Detroit 3 have the largest supplies, with General Motors Co. at 76 days, up from 69, and Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group each at 74 days. On Oct. 1, Ford had a 62-day supply and Chrysler a 60-day supply.
American Honda Motor Co. is close behind at 69 days, up from 60, followed by Nissan North America at 66, up from 50, and Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. at 59, up from 53. Hyundai-Kia Automotive, which has been operating with tighter stock than most, started November with a 41-day supply, up from 36 on Oct. 1.
Few automakers strayed far from the industry's traditional ideal of a 60-day supply. The exception is American Suzuki, which is carrying the most stock: 106 days. A rare monthly gain in October sales trimmed Suzuki's supply from 127 days on Oct. 1, but its U.S. sales are down 46 percent this year.
Inventory at Mitsubishi Motors North America stands at 81 days, but its dealers have enough of two low-volume models to last more than a year without reordering: the Eclipse Spyder, at 380 days, and the Outlander Sport, at 369 days.