New Vehicle Inventory Shortage Report


2021 Kia Telluride
2021 Kia Telluride Nightfall Edition. Credit: Kia.

Cox Automotive is an auto industry analysis company that does an exceptional job overall. They have analyzed vehicle inventories at the end of March 2021 and there were some interesting findings, but no huge surprises.

Here is the report, republished with the permission of Cox Automotive, and you can just bet the picture will be uglier after the smoke clears in April.

HARDEST TO FIND MODELS

The popular Kia Telluride may well be the toughest vehicle to find in the U.S. Nationally, its days’ supply is a scant 14 days, even lower than what it has been. Of the 210 DMAS (designated market areas or media markets), 83% have less than 20 days’ supply of the Telluride so the shortage is widespread. And the tight supply can’t be blamed on production disruptions like the computer chip shortage. Rather, the Telluride is simply a hot-selling vehicle that is outpacing production.

Its cousin, the Hyundai Palisade, was in a bit better shape with 33 days’ supply. The Chevrolet Corvette, which had the lowest days’ supply in February, also had 14 days of supply.

Toyota’s pickup trucks continue to be in extremely tight supply, and the chip shortage is making the situation worse. Toyota purposely slowed the production of the full-size Tundra pickup truck, which will be launched in redesigned form later this year, to reallocate its computer chips to other hot-selling models.

The Tacoma, which dominates the midsize truck market, had only 17 days’ supply for the popular four-wheel-drive model. Almost 70% of the DMAs have less than 20 days of supply. “The supply that does exist isn’t in the right spots,” said Chesbrough. “It is situations like this that suggest tight inventory is likely to limit sales in the second quarter.”

TRUCKS AND LARGE, LUXURY SUVS IN TIGHTEST SUPPLY

Toyota is not alone in truck shortages. Trucks and SUVs – large, luxury ones – have among the lowest supplies.

Full-size pickup trucks had a below-industry-average inventory 48 days’ supply, down significantly from 61 in February. Chevrolet Silverado had between 33 and 46 days’ supply, depending on the model. GMC Sierra had 20 to 38 days of supply, depending on the model.

The Ford F-150, which is being built without the computer chip, parked, and not sold until the chips arrive, was down to a 56 days’ supply. The Super Duty versions had even less. The Ram 1500 had only 61 days of supply, though the Ram 1500 Classic, a favorite with fleets, had 105 days’ supply. The Nissan Titan, which has big incentives on it through early May, had a 100 days’ supply.

Midsize truck inventory was even lower at only 42 days’ supply, down from 55 in February. The Chevrolet Colorado was down to 30 days’ supply. Its GMC counterpart, the Canyon, had a 37 days’ supply. The Honda Ridgeline also was low at 32 days’ supply. The Ford Ranger was in the best shape at 66 days’ supply.

Luxury SUVs had the absolute lowest inventories of any major segment at 38 days’ supply. The Cadillac Escalade and Escalade ESV pulled down the average at 19 and 24 days’ supply respectively.

Large non-luxury SUVs had only 46 days’ supply. GM’s new full-size models – the Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe and GMC Yukon and Yukon XL – brought the average down with their extremely low inventory.

Midsize SUVs – luxury and non-luxury – each had 53 days’ supply. In addition to the Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade, Toyota’s new Highlander had a skimpy supply, as did Toyota RAV4, in the compact category.

Even minivan inventories, bloated not long ago, had days’ supply fall below average to 49. The Chrysler Pacifica is down to 64 days’ supply as the plant in Windsor, Ont., where it is built, has downtime due to the chip shortage.

While other vehicle categories had days’ supply above the industry average, most had declined noticeably from February to March.

LEXUS, TOYOTA, GMC AND KIA LOWEST SUPPLIES

Toyota, once again, was the brand with the lowest inventory of mainstream non-luxury brands at 41 days’ supply. Other brands at the low end were GMC at 42; Kia at 47; Subaru at 54; Chevrolet at 58; and Ford at 60.

March was a record-breaking month for luxury vehicle sales, with the race for sales leadership tightening. Mercedes-Benz returned to No. 1, powered by strong demand for its luxury crossovers. But its lead narrowed from a year earlier. Lexus was closer on its heels, and BMW was closing in tighter on Lexus. The 2021 luxury sales crown may well come down to who has the most inventory of what buyers want.

Once again in March, Lexus had the skimpiest inventory of luxury makers – and most non-luxury brands, at 38 days’ supply. Its three volume products – the ES, RX and NX – were low on stock. Mercedes and BMW both had 47 days’ supply, by no means abundant.

HIGH PRICE, LOW INVENTORY

It seems the higher the price tag, the lower the inventory. The days’ supply for vehicles priced above $80,000 was 41; between $60,000 and $80,000, 41. Under $20,000 and between $30,000 and $60,000 were in the mid-50 days’ supply. The $20,000 to $30,000 category, dominated by traditional sedans, had the heftiest inventories at 68 days’ supply.

For more Cox Automotive research and analysis click here.

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