Automakers and dealers began the new calendar year with lower levels of unsold cars and larger numbers of unsold trucks — in other words, in a better position than they were a year ago.
The industrywide stock of 3,789,500 unsold light vehicles is down from 3,909,800 at this point a year ago, when 1.6 million unsold cars boosted the industrywide days supply to 63 days. This month, the number of unsold cars has dropped by about 200,000 units to under 1.3 million, reducing the days supply of cars to 67.
On the truck side, inventories have actually gone up slightly, rising from 2.3 million a year ago to 2.5 million this month, in line with consumer preferences. Days supply of unsold trucks ticked up to 59 days from 58 a year ago.
Among automakers, Mitsubishi Motors continued to have the highest level of unsold stock on hand, at 114 days supply, followed by Volkswagen Group of America at 94 days and FCA US at 84 days. No other automaker had more than a 68-day supply, with BMW of North America holding just a 36-day supply of unsold inventory.
Among brands, however, Volkswagen started the month with the highest days supply at 146 days, including a 157-day stock of unsold cars. Earlier this month, VW parted ways with Ron Stach, its head of U.S. sales since March 2016, and brought in Duncan Movassaghi, an executive with the Skoda brand in the U.K., to take over.
The struggling Fiat brand was the only other brand to come close to those levels, with a 140-day supply of unsold inventory. Three of the big four luxury brands had the industry's lowest inventories at the start of the month, led by Lexus at 30 days, BMW at 33 and Audi at 36 days.