| 8:44 PM EST

U.S. Dealer Inventories at 9-Year Low

2021 model year off to slow start.
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If you’re ready to buy a new car, prepare for fewer choices than usual.

Land Rovers are in especially tight supply

U.S. dealers have a mere 2.26 million vehicles on hand this month, down 28% from the same time last year, says market research firm Cox Automotive. That’s the lowest inventory since 2011, according to Automotive News.

The decline works out to an average 56 day’s supply of vehicles, down from 58 days in August and 62 in July. Supplies were at 74 days in August 2019.

Brands currently in the shortest supply are Land Rover (19 days), Lexus (29) and BMW (32), Cox reports. Brand with the largest inventories are Buick (110 days), Mitsubishi (109) and Fiat (105). By vehicle type, midsize pickups are in the tightest supply (38 days).

Leftovers

An unusual 97% of the vehicles sitting on dealer lots right now are leftover 2020 models. Normally, that ratio would be about 80% by now. The gap shows that production delays are disrupting the 2021 model year changeover.

“This may become a problem for vehicle buyers this fall,” notes Cox senior economist Charlie Chesbrough. “Those expecting to see the latest and greatest products may be disappointed.”

Meanwhile, average prices are rising on leftover 2020 models because inventories are dropping. Cox says consumers can expect more of the same when more 2021 models—bringing the usual new-model price creep—reach dealer lots.

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