Like an industrywide game of limbo, dealers and automakers are bending over backward and otherwise contorting themselves to keep up with red-hot consumer demand for new vehicles as inventories continue to shrivel up because of production stoppages and supplier shortages.
Inventory levels dropped to just 2.24 million vehicles in April, a 44-day supply at the current selling rate, according to data compiled by Cox Automotive subsidiary vAuto. New-vehicle inventory fell 37 percent from a year earlier and stood 42 percent lower than at the same point in 2019. The days' supply estimate was off 75 percent from the same point a year earlier, when the selling rate was curtailed by closed dealerships and supplies were constrained by halted production amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dealer inventories nationwide have constricted by 420,000 vehicles since March, Cox estimates. Inventory of new nonluxury vehicles was 1.9 million, a 43-day supply, down from a 58-day supply the previous month. The luxury-model supply fell to 49 days from 60.
Among the seven automakers that report sales and inventory levels to the Automotive News Research & Data Center, supplies were tightest at Subaru, 16 days, and Toyota, 23, but no automaker was higher than Volvo's 45 days.
Some vehicles remained in relatively abundant supply, said Autotrader executive analyst Michelle Krebs, including subcompact crossovers such as the Ford EcoSport and Buick Encore, as well as some subcompact cars.