New vehicle inventory still near record highs, with Twist: fuel-efficient cars disappearing, full-size pickup trucks piling up. Ram, Dodge, Jeep

But Kia, Toyota, Honda: almost nothing on the lot. Where are the shortages and where is the abundant supply, by brand and by segment.

By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.

At the end of August, new vehicle inventories in dealerships and in transit stood at 1.23 million vehicles, still at the terribly low levels that have prevailed since spring 2021, down 65% compared to August 2019.

But increasingly, there is now a new wrinkle in those shortages, according to inventory data from Cox Automotive: Many fuel-efficient models have essentially disappeared from inventory, and there are long waiting lists for many of these models, and customers are waiting months to get what they ordered, including electric vehicles , hybrids and compact cars, while stocks of pickup trucks and other larger vehicles are being built, and some brands, such as Ram and Dodge, are now overstocked and offering massive discounts.

In terms of day supply at the end of August, it increased to 40 days from 37 days in July. It’s still very low, but up from last summer’s 30-day range. By comparison, in 2019 the supply averaged 89 days, and that was pretty high, and there were a lot of deals to be had.

Chip shortages persist, but to a lesser extent.

On Monday evening, Ford announced that it expects to have 40,000 to 45,000 unfinished vehicles on storage lots at the end of the third quarter, awaiting parts.

Since last year, automakers have been building vehicles that lack components in order to keep their factories running. When the missing components arrive, automakers install them, complete the vehicles, and ship them to dealerships.

GM, at the end of the second quarter, had 95,000 unfinished vehicles in storage lots, awaiting components. Other automakers are also doing it to mitigate the effects of the chip shortage.

The shortages focus on cheap microcontrollers and specialty semiconductors that the automotive industry uses for mundane things. If any of the chips in a mirror are out of stock, the component manufacturer cannot deliver the mirrors to the assembly plant and the vehicle cannot be completed. But it can be built and put on a storage lot, and when the rearview mirror arrives, the vehicle can be completed.

Where are the shortages and where is the sufficient supply?

Due to soaring gasoline prices this year, the most fuel-efficient vehicles have all but disappeared from dealer inventory. When you see “20 day supply” you will find next to nothing on many dealers’ lot, and most of the vehicles in “inventory” are actually in transit, and many of them have already been sold before arriving on the plot.

The seven segments with great shortages. Seven of the 23 main segments have between 20 and 30 days of supply. This means that most of these “inventory” vehicles are either in transit or already pre-sold. When customers show up to purchase one of these models, they will often be faced with a lack of choice and may need to order instead.

One of these seven segments is an outlier in terms of energy efficiency: high-performance cars (22.2 days of supply). But with an average price of $110,000, these aren’t exactly mainstream vehicles.

These are the segments that are experiencing shortages – and they are frustrating for all parties involved, customers, dealers and automakers. This data was provided by Cox Automotive.

General classification Most loss-making segments Supply days
1 Hybrid/alternative energy 21.2
2 Subcompact car 21.6
3 High performance car 22.2
4 compact car 25.6
5 Minivan 27.7
6 Electric vehicle 27.9
seven Intermediate car 28.4

All nine segments with tight to sufficient inventory. In this group you will find a wide range of vehicles, including many SUVs and crossovers. Mid-size pickups fall into this segment, but full-size pickups do not:

General classification Segment with tight to sufficient supply Supply days
8 Luxury full-size SUV/crossover 30.6
9 Compact/Crossover SUV 34.2
ten Intermediate pickup 36.3
11 Subcompact SUV/Crossover 37.9
12 Entry-level luxury car 40.7
13 Luxury Midsize SUV/Crossover 40.9
14 Midsize SUV/Crossover 41.6
15 Van 43.0
16 Full-size SUV/Crossover 44.0
17 Luxury car 45.2
18 Sports car 45.6

All five segments with abundant supply, including full-size pickups. For retail buyers, full-size pickup trucks are the most popular vehicles. The best-selling models of all time are the full-size pickup trucks. This is a huge and incredibly profitable segment of the automotive industry – and has been for many years.

During the pandemic, people went to their dealerships to buy pickup trucks, and they cleaned out dealerships, and they ordered trucks and they waited for months, and some dealerships sold trucks for $10,000 or $20 $000 above MSRP and got away with it.

And automakers, hampered by shortages of semiconductors, have prioritized building high-end pickup trucks to protect revenue as best they can as unit production was slowed by component shortages.

But then the price of gasoline skyrocketed and reached the pain threshold, and consumers winced and took a deep breath, while automakers still prioritized the production of high-end full-size pickup trucks. . As supply chains are long and global, complicated and cumbersome, sudden changes in demand cannot be met quickly.

And now the vans are starting to pile up. On average, there were 59.2 days of pickup truck supply at the end of August, supplemented by the Ram 1500 with 88 days of supply and the Chevy Silverado with 77 days of supply – meaning a excess supply:

General classification Segment Supply days
19 Luxury Compact SUV/Crossover 54.6
20 Luxury Subcompact SUV/Crossover 56.0
21 Full-size pickup truck 59.2
22 High end luxury car 60.2
23 full size car 63.7

With some brands, big discounts are back.

For example, Ram dealerships are now offering deep discounts, including national and regional incentives from Stellantis. It’s like they’re attaching a minus sign in front of the $10,000 addendum stickers of yesteryear.

A San Francisco Bay Area Ram dealership, for example, today announced a new 2022 RAM 1500 Big Horn Crew Cab 4X4 truck at $8,479 below MSRP:

Shortages among import brands, lots of supply among American brands.

The top six brands with the tightest supply – between 19 days and 30 days – are all Asian import brands.

This ranking is by “brand”, not by where the vehicles are actually manufactured, which could be in the United States, Mexico, Asia, Europe, etc. Many of these leading vehicles are manufactured in assembly plants in the United States and Mexico.

Kia is on top with 19 days supply. Good luck walking into a Kia dealership, choosing a new vehicle and driving home with it. People can order one. American brands are mid-to-low, starting with Chevrolet at 43.9 days of supply. Stellantis brands (red) are all overstocked.

Tesla has no dealers – and therefore has no “dealership” inventory. It sells directly to consumers. And it does not disclose its own inventory. And it doesn’t even disclose its US sales. So he’s not on the list.

At the bottom of the list with the most oversupply: Fiat and Alfa Romeo have tiny US sales and don’t really matter. But Volvo counts — owned by Chinese automaker Geely, some of its models are made in China — and it’s even more overstocked than Ram.

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