An inventory efficiency index developed by Cloud Theory ranked the Toyota brand as the most efficient mover of vehicle inventory in the U.S.
The index's April results show Toyota overtaking Kia to claim the top spot.
Kia had been the consistent industry leader in inventory efficiency for more than a year, according to Rick Wainschel, Cloud Theory vice president for data science and analytics.
Cloud Theory is a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based software company that aims to provide comprehensive, updated efficiency data to help manufacturers make decisions about marketing and inventory distribution. The data updates are daily.
Cloud Theory's "inventory efficiency index" assigns scores to vehicle makes based on current active inventory and sales data in comparison with competitors. A score below 100 indicates supply is outstripping demand, while a score above 100 suggests the vehicle is selling more efficiently than average.
Toyota earned a score of 156.9, with Kia landing in second place at 153.8. Lexus, Honda, BMW, Land Rover, Subaru, Nissan, Hyundai and Chevrolet also placed in the top 10.
Of the top 10, the Toyota brand climbed the most points in March — 15.4 — while Toyota's luxury brand Lexus, which placed in third, slipped by the most, losing 10.5. For metrics that are typically fairly stable, a 15-point climb is "really big," Wainschel told Automotive News.
Movements in the index usually are driven by one or two models, but "what we saw in looking at the Toyota models was that almost every model in the Toyota lineup improved in its performance," Wainschel said, estimating that about 21 of 22 improved. "It's very unusual to have that level of positive performance across the board."
Scores vary by region. Kia still ranks first in the Southwest and South Atlantic regions. Honda leads in New England and Lexus leads in the Mid-Atlantic.
Toyota's communications efforts and financing and leasing programs around key models, including the Corolla, Camry, RAV4 and Tacoma, helped the brand climb to the top spot, Wainschel said.
Wainschel said he sees Toyota's aggressive strategy as a sign the company is feeling confident about getting inventory levels back up after being hard hit by chip shortages.
"The fact that Toyota is being as aggressive as they were in April I think is a good sign in its indication that they feel confident that they truly have turned an inventory corner," Wainschel said.