Normal – a word we’ve all been desperate to hear since shortly after the pandemic started in early 2020. Three years later, we’re finally hearing it in the automotive industry: new car inventory at car dealers across the country is just shy of the pre-pandemic normal levels as of March 2023.
What does this mean for buyers, and what dealers and brands are still behind the current upward trend?
The Numbers from March – and Predictions for April
At the end of March 2023, car dealers in America had just under 1.9 million new cars in stock. Supply, measured in days that inventory can be sold if the dealer is unable to acquire more vehicles, was at a high of 56 days.
That’s 58% higher than it was this time last year, according to Cox Automotive, and just under the recommended 60-day supply that veteran dealership owners recommend.
As for April, the numbers aren’t in just yet, but the prediction is that new car stock will continue to go up until it stabilizes at the usual 60 days of inventory.
That’s great for car dealerships and manufacturers, but what does it mean for the people who want to buy new cars? What difference does it make if the dealer has 56 days of inventory or 62?
What Does This Mean for Buyers
The good news is that the more inventory a dealer has, the more likely they are to give a discount in order to attract new customers.
Because of this, average new car sale prices finally fell before sticker price for the first time in nearly two years last month.
According to Cox Automotive, the asking price for new vehicles dropped weekly in March until it reached under $47,000 – that’s the first time that happened since the lows of December 2022.
So buyers should be ecstatic – prices are steadily dropping for new vehicles, and discounts or sales are finally starting to pop up again for cars! But, unfortunately, that’s not all there is to it.
While inventory overall is stabilizing, some brands and specific types of cars still aren’t back to what they should be, and that makes a difference for today’s buyer who knows what they want.
What to Watch Out For – Some Brands’ Stock is Still Low
Stellantis brand vehicles like RAM and Jeep have over 100 days of inventory, as well as luxury brands like Buick, but other popular car brands aren’t so lucky.
Toyota and Kia have a supply under 30 days, with Hyundai, Honda, and Chevrolet close behind. Luxury brands BMW and Land Rover also had low days of inventory.
And worst of all, low-budget compact and midsize cars had the lowest inventory at car dealers – leaving frugal buyers shunted in the current market.
Surprisingly, truck buyers will have the most luck and the best chance at a deal – full-size trucks from RAM, Ford, and Chevrolet each have over 80 days of inventory.
Looking to the Future
Car dealers are looking forward to better inventory in the next few months, and car buyers are looking forward to better deals.
So if you’re looking for a new car, this month may be the best time to buy – but only for certain vehicles or brands.
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