At public retailers, inventory still hasn't turned a corner

At public retailers, inventory still hasn’t turned a corner

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Lithia Motors Inc. reported a 32-day supply of new vehicles at the end of June, up from 27 days on March 31. Lithia’s days’ supply count isn’t directly comparable to rivals’ numbers because Lithia’s figures include in-transit vehicles and vehicles from its Canadian operations.

Lithia CEO Bryan DeBoer said on July 20 the company had a 60-day supply of domestic brand vehicles, “so we have pretty good flow even though there’s some in-transit on that.” Lithia’s softness is in import brand vehicles, with a 16-day supply and “where we really are selling every car that we get about as quick as we can get them,” he said. Lithia had a 29-day supply of luxury brands.

Lithia’s new-vehicle volume fell 8.5 percent in the quarter, but the company’s aggressive dealership acquisition strategy is helping it sell more new cars than competitors.

Asbury Automotive Group Inc. said it had a 13-day supply of new vehicles at the end of June, up from just 10 days at the end of March. However, deliveries that landed right at the end of the quarter skewed that figure upward, CEO David Hult said.

Asbury had been at “several days below that number,” Hult said last week. The retailer has found itself particularly short of foreign brands and domestic trucks, he said. “It’s really spotty by brand.”

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