Inventories of unsold automobiles climbed for a third consecutive month, to 4,188,200 vehicles in March, representing a 70-day supply and the highest gross level since post-recession inventories peaked in July 2017.
The number of unsold vehicles to start April was about 123,600 higher than at the same point a year ago, which then represented a 69-day supply, and marked the third consecutive month of inventory levels topping 4 million vehicles, according to the Automotive News Data Center.
Inventories usually climb as automakers stock up for summer, but the 58,600-vehicle increase from the previous month occurred amid the strongest annualized selling rate since December, meaning production still outstripped demand.
About 53 percent of the industry's unsold inventory at the start of April belonged to the Detroit 3 and their dealers. General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and FCA US collectively had about 2.2 million unsold vehicles in inventory, about 88 percent of which were light trucks.
Across the entire industry, cars represented about 27 percent of stocks, slightly below the 30 percent sales level that cars achieved in March. As a result, automakers and dealers began April with a 62-day supply of unsold cars, compared with a 74-day supply of light trucks.
At brand level, four brands continued to run with inventory below 50 days' supply, led as usual by Subaru, while five brands had more than 100 days' worth, including a 223-day supply for troubled Fiat.