Like an Olympic high diver, the U.S. auto industry's inventory and sales appear to have touched the bottom and look to be on their way back up.
The problem, though? The pool is deep, and there's still a long way to rise back to where supply and demand reside in balance.
October's seasonally adjusted, annualized rate of sales climbed to 13.1 million, Motor Intelligence said, up from the September depths of 12.38 million, but still well below April's 18.5 million. The increase ended a five-month trend of declining SAARs driven almost entirely by the chip shortage that stymied factory output, frustrating retailers while consumer demand for new vehicles remained strong.
"If dealers had cars to sell last month, they sold them," said Michelle Krebs, executive analyst for Cox Automotive. "In the early part of the month, things looked really grim; we thought it was going to end up with an 11 or 12 [million] SAAR for the month. But what we saw in the middle was that inventory picked up, and so did sales."