LOS ANGELES -- Even after Hyundai's best August ever, its dealers are painfully aware that they could sell many more vehicles if the automaker could provide them.
Aside from that annoying reality, Hyundai dealers and the factory are thriving with lean inventories.
Dealers are selling vehicles rapidly, mainly to keep their precious vehicle allocations. Transaction prices are rising modestly despite the pressure to sell vehicles quickly, while floorplan and incentive costs are low.
"Years ago, I remember, if we wanted cars, especially domestically made cars, there were tens of thousands of cars on the ground in Alabama," said Scott Fink, chairman of the Hyundai National Dealer Council.
"Now there's none. We don't have enough cars, the manufacturer doesn't have enough cars, and we have consumers standing in line to buy our cars. It's a far better situation."
Fink's flagship Hyundai store in New Port Richey, Fla., sold 555 new vehicles last month.
A few numbers explain the demanding sales environment that Hyundai dealers are battling.
On Sept. 1, Hyundai had a 29-day supply of vehicles. For comparison, the Ford brand had a 56-day supply, and Toyota was at 40 days, according to the Automotive News Data Center.
Bob Lisy, general manager of Ganley Westside Imports (Hyundai-Volkswagen-Subaru) near Cleveland, said last week that he doesn't have a single Sonata GLS in stock. The GLS is the Sonata's base trim level.
In addition, Hyundai just reported its best August ever in the United States. The brand sold 61,099 vehicles last month, up 4 percent from August 2011.
But the U.S. industry rose 20 percent in August, suggesting that Hyundai could have sold more.
A big reason for the brand's banner month is the speed at which Hyundai dealers are selling vehicles. During the first eight months of the year, the average Hyundai vehicle sold after 27 days on a dealer's lot, compared with 34 days in the same period last year, said John Krafcik, CEO of Hyundai Motor America.
Inventories have been tight since April 2011. In only two months since then have dealers stocked more than a 30-day supply. A 60-day supply is considered ideal by the industry.
Krafcik said help is on the way. The company's production schedule for the final four months of the year is up 19 percent from the same period in 2011.
The company's product renaissance boosted demand, starting with the redesigned 2010 Tucson crossover. Analysts give Hyundai good marks for eye-catching design and high quality. And there aren't enough vehicles to go around.