The glut is gone. Automakers and dealers started the key December selling season with a below-average supply of vehicles on hand for the first time in 11 months.
After record November sales, U.S. light-vehicle stocks stood at 71 days on Dec. 1. That's one day below the 72-day supply average for this date over the previous 25 years.
All year, as sales fell behind the record-setting pace of 2016, automakers have struggled to reduce bulging inventories while also switching production to surging demand for light trucks. The industry average also was distorted by General Motors' decision to overbuild some vehicles ahead of planned shutdowns to retool during model changeover.
As recently as Sept. 1, the industry was 15 days above the 56-day supply average for that date.
But entering December, industrywide stocks are almost exactly at norm. And the product mix also looks balanced: a 72-day supply of cars and 70-day supply of light trucks.
However, at the nameplate level there are extremes.
Twenty passenger cars had at least a 100-day supply. At 150 days or above were the Dodge Viper, Buick LaCrosse and Cascada, Cadillac ATS and CTS, Acura TLX, Honda Fit, Mitsubishi Mirage and Fiat Spider. Volkswagen brand, which does not report details on individual models, reported its five cars averaged a 157-day supply.
Measured in units, the industry inventory of 3.97 million rose by 98,200 from Nov. 1. It was the second-smallest growth for December in the past quarter century, behind an 82,000 increase in 2001.