The high number of unsold vehicles across the industry retreated slightly last month, but slowing sales in April meant dealers and automakers started May with their highest days supply for this time of year since 2009.
Automakers and dealers had an estimated 4,120,900 unsold vehicles on hand to open May, a 78-day supply, according to the Automotive News Data Center. That's 67,300 vehicles fewer than at the beginning of April, which meant a 70-day supply of cars and light trucks, but 18,800 more than where the industry stood a year ago. The estimated 78-day supply was the highest number for what is traditionally the start of the summer selling season since it reached 85 days in 2009.
Cars represented just over 26 percent of vehicles in inventory to open the month, while making up almost 30 percent of sales volume in April. As a result, dealers and automakers began May with just a 69-day supply of unsold cars, compared with an 81-day supply of light trucks.
Just over half of the total unsold cars and light trucks in the U.S. at the beginning of May were either General Motors, Ford or FCA products, while another third were from Japanese brands. The remainder was split between European and Korean automakers.
Total unsold imports represented a 69-day supply on May 1, up from 60 days a month earlier. As they have for more than a year, two import brands represented the extreme ends, with Subaru continuing to run the leanest inventory in the industry while Fiat maintained the highest.