The days supply of unsold automobiles at the beginning of January stood at 58, its lowest point since the beginning of September 2015 and the lowest figure for this time of year since 2013.
Automakers and dealers had an estimated 3,554,900 vehicles in inventory to begin the year — about 188,000 vehicles fewer than where the industry began December and about 366,000 fewer vehicles than a year ago, according to data and estimates compiled by the Automotive News Data Center.
A 60-day supply is considered optimum. The UAW strike against General Motors, continuing strong sales and broader production controls largely drove the decrease.
The industry had an estimated 2,743,400 light trucks in inventory to begin the year, representing a 59-day supply, while the number of unsold cars dropped for the second consecutive month to just 811,500, the lowest number of unsold sedans, coupes, hatchbacks and convertibles since the beginning of September 2011. The car total represents a 53-day supply at December's selling rate.
Eight automakers started the year with less than a 50-day supply of vehicles, led again by Subaru at just 21 days, while seven others had between a 55- and 84-day supply, Automotive News Data Center estimates show.
Three brands known for subcompact vehicles — Fiat, Volkswagen and Mini — had the highest levels, led by Fiat at 214 days.