November sales surged by double-digits, so it was hard to find a manufacturer that didn’t have a good month, with the exception of Volkswagen and the Honda division. But reading between the lines can reveal a bit different story.
Despite the big sales surge, industry inventories have been on the rise – one reason Ford has decided to trim a week’s production this month for the normally strong Fusion sedan – the second-largest domestic maker slicing its planned overall first-quarter production schedule by 2%.
And while dealers had a tough time keeping some products – such as the new Range Rover and Range Rover Sport SUVs – in stock last month, they were tripping over some other models. There was an average 115 days of inventory for the Nissan GTR sports car, for example, roughly twice the 60-day industry norm. Jaguar dealers had 103 days worth of XKR models, and there was an 89-day supply of the Acura RLX, the luxury brand’s new flagship, according to a survey by Cars.com.
But there are nonetheless some surprises on the list, especially among the November “Losers,” as Cars.com is calling them. The Acura RLX has not gained nearly the traction the luxury arm of Honda has hoped for. But what about the 2014 Cadillac ATS, with a 68-day supply. The reality is that this isn’t much above the norm, and could be little more than a minor blip. The same could be true for both of the Kia models on the list considering just how strong a performance the Korean maker has put in so far this year.
At the other end of the spectrum, there are few real surprises among the “Movers.” The Range Rover has been at the top of the charts since its launch last year and the newer 2014 Range Rover Sport is still in short supply as production continues to ramp up. According to Chevrolet, meanwhile, there’s as much as a 6-month waiting list for the Corvette coupe and vehicles are essentially being sold as soon as trucks arrive at the showroom.
There’s little doubt that demand is hot for a range of all-new models such as the BMW X5, the new Kia Soul, and the new entry-lux Mercedes-Benz CLA250. The latter model is currently the German maker’s hottest product and company officials suggest it is achieving an 80% conquest rate – in other words, four out of five buyers are new to the Mercedes brand. Meanwhile, the new S550 premium luxury sedan is also drawing buyers in for Mercedes. Chrysler has got to be pleased to see its new Jeep Cherokee in the fifth spot on the list, with a mere 9 days of inventory.
The significant thing to note, overall, is that even among the so-called Losers, most were only slightly above what is considered normal inventory for this time of year. That underscores just how hot U.S. new car sales are right now. There are, in reality, only a handful of losers in the market.