Cars So Hot They Are Out of Stock

This year is expected to be the best for domestic new car sales since 2006, the year before the recession began. The increase in buyer activity has been large enough that several car and light truck brands are virtually out of stock. These are a mix mostly of extremely expensive cars and very inexpensive ones as heavy demand appears to be concentrated at both ends of the market. 24/7 Wall St. has compiled a list of the most oversold vehicles during November.

Domestic car sales in 2005 and 2006 were above 16 million each year. Sales dropped below 9 million in 2009. This year, major car companies and automotive research firms expect U.S. vehicle sales to be nearly 13.5 million. While that does not approach the industry’s best years, car manufacturers have cut enough out of their factory and worker costs that most can now make money at the 13 million annual sales level.

Most years, a few car models are in short supply. This is because either a manufacturer underestimates demand or there is an interruption in supply because of manufacturing problems. This year, heavy demand appears to be concentrated among those who want inexpensive and fuel-efficient cars at one end, and those consumers for whom price and gas mileage are not much of a consideration.

The industry measurement of car supply is “days to turn,” or “days on the lot.” This is defined as the average number of days vehicles are in the inventory of all dealers that offer the car before they are sold during the month measured. The industry’s average is about 50 days when spread across a large car company’s national inventory at its dealers. Some unpopular vehicles can remain for as many as 120 days on the lot. Cars and light trucks, which are virtually unavailable at most dealers, only stay 15 days or fewer on the lot. A figure this low means that only a few dealers nationwide have supply of these cars or light trucks.

24/7 Wall St. used data from Edmunds to determine which cars were hardest for buyers to find in November. The list includes two BMW models, one Mercedes, one Audi and one Lexus — all expensive cars. It also includes two models from low-price manufacturer Hyundai and one from sister company Kia. In addition to those, the list has one Toyota (NYSE: TM) and one Subaru on it. Each of these had a relatively low sticker price.

These are the cars so hot they are out of stock.

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