In further proof that Americans’ love affair with cars is waning, the days’ supply of some formerly hot-selling models have reached their highest levels since the end of the recession.
The Honda Civic, for instance, had a days’ supply of 117 in January and 96 in February, for a 2-month average of 107, well above the 2-month 2015 average for Small Cars of 81 days and for all cars of 79 days.
Civic’s 107 days’ supply average is second only to the recessionary months of January and February 2009, when the car’s days’ supply was a respective 152 and 128, or an average of 140.
Hyundai’s competing Elantra compact car also has seen days’ supply increase this year, to even higher-than-Great-Recession levels.
The Elantra had a 104 days’ supply in January and a 68 days’ supply in February, a 2-month average of 86.
That was the highest average days’ supply for the car in the past eight January-February periods, besting January-February 2009’s 72.
Hyundai’s Sonata midsize sedan also saw its highest days’ supply average for a January-February period since 2007. The Sonata had a 126 days’ supply in January and a 109 days’ supply in February, an average of 118 days.
The car’s previous record days’ supply for the first two months of the year was 95, hit in 2009 and 2014.
February typically is a slow month for car sales, which leads to more units in stock in the winter month than in most months of the year.
However, days’ supply of the Civic the first two months of this year is higher than in January-February 2007 to 2014, when it averaged 79.
The average days’ supply for Small Cars in January-February 2007 to 2014 was 77.2, and for all cars it was 75.2.
Prior to and just after the recession, Civic days’ supply on an annual basis averaged in the 40s and 50s, but last year and in 2013 it crept up into the 60s.
Jeff Conrad, Honda Div.’s senior vice president-U.S., recently told WardsAuto that as of late selling the Civic “has been a challenge. That segment is not as strong as it used to be.”
Efforts to reduce Civic units in stock could be seen last month, when shipments of imported parts for Hondas were delayed due to the West Coast port slowdown.
Honda airlifted parts for hotter-selling models to keep North American production on pace. But Civic output ran slower as the automaker waited for ships carrying its parts to come into port.
Hyundai has been open about the struggles it has seen lately selling its cars in a country increasingly enamored with CUVs.
“We’re 80% cars,” Dave Zuchowski, Hyundai Motor America CEO, told WardsAuto in January of the disproportionate share of cars the brand sold last year, second only to Volkswagen’s 90%.
“There’s so much migration going from midsize cars and compact cars to CUVs, because of the versatility the car-based crossovers now provide (that) it’s hurting those segments.”
Of the Elantra, Zuchowski said its advanced age and relatively high transaction price has impacted volume. Because other brands sell more CUVs than Hyundai, a vehicle type which usually carries a premium over a car, those brands can afford to more heavily incentivize their compact models.
The Sonata is a more exceptional case. Hyundai redesigned the sedan last year, but has admitted its plainer look relative to the ’10-’14 model’s sheetmetal has not captured car buyers’ attention.
The automaker vows to liven up the Sonata for its midcycle refresh, expected in ’17 or ’18.
A new generation of the Elantra is due later this year, as is a new-generation Civic.
Conrad says Honda may have to place higher spiffs on the Civic this year to move units off dealer lots.
“We don’t want to lose customers in that segment, so we’re probably incentivizing Civic a little higher than some other (Honda) models.”