In today’s morning news roundup I want to focus on car supply, specifically on the Jeep brand, which recent data shows has a number of models that are sitting on dealer lots for long periods of time. The headline number is that America has a theoretical two-year strategic supply of Renegades. They’ll never take our Renegades! The Renegade, though, isn’t the only Jeep model with a lot of inventory.
Let’s jump into this, and then we’ll look at the relationship between inventory, sales, and availability.
The Cars And Trucks With The Most Inventory Right Now
Not to keep harping on this, but there is no new normal in the car market, there are only multiple abnormals. Supply chain issues still persist, the global and national economies are still in this strange liminal space between fine/not-fine, and automakers are frantically accelerating their electrification plans at the expense of some current gas models.
Take this bit of weirdness below:
This all comes from data from online service CarEdge, which scrapes publicly available dealer data and uses it to help consumers try to make informed car-buying choices. I first saw the data in a tweet from CarDealershipGuy (who is not named Michael, but has a newsletter worth reading). The big, big number is that Jeep stands at 753 days of supply.
I talked to CarEdge CEO Zach Shefska this morning to confirm the methodology and try and understand how they got to this number. Basically, CarEdge scrapes the vast majority of car dealership websites for listings every night. “We consider a vehicle listed for sale when we scrape it, and sold when it is taken offline,” he told me in a text. So if you take the days it takes to sell a car and apply that to the total number of lists you get the total inventory (this data comes from a scrape on May 24th).
While this is not a perfect number (for instance, Cars.com shows about 5,500 Renegades for sale and AutoTrader shows about 6,100) it does give a good relative sense of how the consumer retail market is performing. A lot of the data we get as journalists is filtered or skewed, so it’s fun to play with something a little more raw.
This Renegade news is not particularly surprising. A quick glance at vehicles for sale nationwide, show many Renegades listed sub-MSRP. It’s an older model, launched in 2015, that’s had only minor upgrades. Monthly sales have been dropping dramatically year-over-year, though some of that was likely supply-chain related. Jeep reports that they’re selling about 2,000 Renegades over a 45-day period, as opposed to the 456 shown here, but Jeep’s numbers include fleet sales and other factors that tend to inflate reported sales numbers. U.S.-spec Renegades are built in Italy and, given that Italian industrial/labor policy tends to encourage plants to stay running, I wouldn’t be surprised if that factors in here as well.
Is this actually a two-year supply? If the current prices and sales rate held, perhaps. The reality will probably be quite different. This data captures a moment in time and we’re about to enter the summer selling season, so the sales rate should naturally increase. Plus, as CarDealershipGuy points out, incentives are likely coming (if they aren’t already here). Still, I think that the data and concept here are solid enough to get a good sense of the market.
What else do we see? Silverado 4500s are not a surprise, because those vehicles were put under recall and a stop-sale order. I’d take guesses on Corsair as I’d imagine the PHEVs would be doing better thanks to the tax credit. All the rest of the vehicles are Stellantis vehicles and some make a lot of sense (the Jeep Cherokee is not market competitive, and neither is the Compass).
This is pure conjecture, but given the huge sales increases for 4xe vehicles due to tax credits (in particular the Wrangler 4xe) I do think Jeep likely cannibalized some of its own sales of vehicles like the Gladiator and higher-trim models of the Renegade. I’d have guessed that Pacifica Hybrids sales would have also been helped by tax credits, but it doesn’t seem so.
The other side of the market, where there’s barely any supply of vehicles, doesn’t surprise me at all:
This is as much a reflection of supply chain issues (especially with regard to vehicles like the Carnival) as it is in popularity. I called around to Subaru dealers locally at the end of last year to see what they had and the salespeople I spoke with were basically encouraging people to order cars since their inventory was extremely tight. It doesn’t seem like that’s completely changed (more on that later), especially with a new 2024 Subaru Impreza coming.
If you really wanted a Jeep Renegade for some reason, I suspect you’ll be able to snag one for a good price this summer.
Subaru COO Says Inventory Improving To ’35 Cars Per Store’
Well this is good timing, just this morning Automotive News posted an interview with Subaru COO Jeff Walters and addressed this very issue.
At this point last year, we’d wrap up a month and have 5,000 or 6,000 cars on the ground across our 639 retailers — less than 10 cars each, on average. Right now, we’re wrapping up the month with 20,000 to 23,000 cars. It’s still only an average of 35 cars per store, but it sure feels like a lot more. It’s still incredibly lean, though. The retailers are doing a great job, being very efficient with the inventory and the car lines, which are all still moving along very well for us.
According to Walters, their parent company is also allocating more cars going forward.
Tesla May Also Have A Lot Of Inventory
UPDATE: @Tesla is now offering up to a $3,020 discount off of new Model 3 inventory in the US.— Sawyer Merritt (@SawyerMerritt) June 1, 2023
Tesla also resumed discounts on some Model Ys of nearly $600 off each. https://t.co/buQwKcQ7xC pic.twitter.com/qDW7uSFTMW
Tesla changing prices all the time isn’t headline news anymore as it’s just part of their strategy. While Jeep can play an incentives game with dealers, Tesla obviously cannot. These discounts appear to be primarily on the vehicles with the lithium iron phosphate batteries, which only qualify for the $3,750 tax credit because of their Chinese-made battery packs. According to Tesla inventory data from Matt Jung, Model 3 US inventory is at a three-year high.
(Editor’s Note: I just spent a week in the Bay Area in a base Model 3. If you can get one on a dirt-cheap lease deal, it’s pretty superb; I’m considering doing the same in the next few months. -PG)
Kias Still Selling At Record Numbers
Surprising absolutely no one who is paying attention, Kia’s excellent model line is paying off with their tenth straight month of year-over-year sales and their second highest monthly sales total ever. From their latest press release:
Fast-growing Kia America continues its hot streak as the brand posted total May sales of 71,497 units, marking the second-highest monthly sales total in company history and the tenth consecutive month of year-over-year sales increases. May sales were up 23-percent over the same period last year, with several models posting double- and even triple-digit sales increases, including: Seltos (+171-percent); Stinger (+102-percent); Carnival (+80-percent); Soul (+45-percent); Telluride (+35-percent); Sportage (+24-percent) and Sorento (+13-percent).
RIP Stinger, you were too good for this world.
The Big Question
Does anything on this list of cars with high inventory surprise you? Any theories, beyond the supply chain, for certain models? Let’s get nerdy.
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