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U.S. Light-Vehicle Inventory Ends 2014 on High Note

U.S. Light-Vehicle Inventory Ends 2014 on High Note

In spite of the industry’s increase, five of the eight top sellers in the U.S. ended December with inventory below year-ago.  

Inventory might have been somewhat responsible for December’s U.S. sales falling slightly below forecast, but automakers evidently stepped up production and import shipments during the month to make sure they could meet hefty demand in 2015.

After falling below year-ago levels for the first time in three years in November, U.S. dealers ended December with inventory of 3.49 million units, 1.1% above year-ago’s 3.45 million. Inventory was expected to head into 2015 below year-ago levels, but stocks of both domestically produced and import vehicles ended December much higher than anticipated.

Inventory of domestically made LVs totaled 2.89 million units at month’s end, 3.3% above like-2013, while import inventory finished 8.3% below year-ago at 598,349.

Days’ supply of light vehicles totaled 61 on Dec. 31, down from November’s 70 and same-month 2013’s 64. Domestic vehicles posted a 63 days’ supply, compared with 67 in December 2013. Imports recorded a 52 days’ supply, nearly even with the prior year’s 53. All totals are in line with December’s seasonal trends.

Reflecting the continued shift in demand toward trucks, especially CUVs and pickups, inventory of cars ended the month at 1.64 million units, down 3.2% from like-2013. Inventory was below year-ago levels for both domestic and import cars. Days’ supply of 65, although down from like-2013’s 69, was slightly high for December.

Dec. 31 truck inventory totaled 1.84 million units, up 5.4% from like-2013. Days’ supply was 57, down from December 2013’s 59. Inventory of domestic trucks ended the month 6.6% above year-ago, but imports were down 3.7%.

Oddly, five of the eight biggest sellers in the U.S., including the Top 3 – General Motors, Ford and Toyota – ended December with inventory below year-ago. Honda and Volkswagen/Audi also were down. The industry increase is being supported by FCA US (formerly Chrysler Group), Nissan, Hyundai/Kia, BMW, Daimler and a smattering of others.

Combined, December inventory for the Top 3 was down 3.2% from year-ago. The decline among them mainly is in cars, although Toyota’s truck inventory also was below year-ago.

FCA ended December with inventory up 5.6% from like-2013, including a 16.3% increase in trucks. FCA’s car inventory was down 15.9%. A good portion of its truck increase is in preparation for a 3-month shutdown starting in February at its Windsor, ON, Canada, minivan plant for early tooling for future products. However, excluding the minivans, FCA’s truck inventory was still 13.4% above year-ago.

Hyundai/Kia’s inventory ended December a whopping 44.9% above like-2013, and Nissan’s inventory increased 8.4% year-over-year.

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