Special Report

Cars So Hot They're Out of Stock

American motorists bought a record 17.5 million new vehicles in 2015. While automobile sales are at an all time high, certain makes and models are in much higher demand than others.

The total units a manufacturer sells of a specific vehicle model is a reflection the vehicle’s popularity. However, demand for a given vehicle can also be measured by the average number of days it sits on a dealer’s lot before it is sold. In order to determine America’s fastest-selling cars, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed Kelley Blue Book days to turn figures — or, the number of days a car sits on a dealer’s lot before it is sold. Average days to turn in 2015 ranged from 231.7 for the Honda Insight to 16.0 for the Subaru Outback.

While none of the fastest selling cars rank among the best selling cars of the year, they all have had meaningful year-over-year sales increases. Sales of the Volvo XC90, a vehicle that spends an average of just 22.7 days on the lot before being sold, shot up 223% from 3,952 units in 2014 to 12,777 units in 2015.

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Many factors can contribute to demand of a particular vehicle. Perhaps the most universal and unchanging factor is the manufacturer’s reputation for quality. In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., Tim Fleming, analyst at Kelley Blue Book, explained that quality is the most important factor. “If you have good products out there, it gives the dealers a better chance to sell,” Fleming said. The majority of the fastest selling cars are manufactured by one of the top 10 car makers in overall quality as ranked by Consumer Reports. Audi and Subaru, the two car makers with the highest quality ratings, manufacture four of the fastest selling cars in the United States.

Another characteristic many of America’s fastest-selling cars share is their relatively recent introduction to the market. “Demand is highest when [a] model just launches,” Fleming said. Perhaps not surprisingly, more than half of the cars with the lowest days to turn were not available as recently as 2013, and one-third of them were new for 2015.

Consumer tastes and sales trends in the auto industry have recently been influenced by lower fuel prices. Gasoline prices across the country hit an eight-year low in 2016, part of a long-term downward trend that began in 2014. Lower prices at the pump have lead to a surge in popularity of SUVs and crossovers.

Car sales have decreased 5.9% year-to-date compared to the same period in 2015, while SUV and crossover sales have shot up by 8.8% over the same time period. “Consumers gravitate towards SUVs or trucks, and as a result, the cars take the brunt of that and become less popular,” said Fleming. More than half of the fastest selling vehicles in the U.S. market are SUVs.

To determine America’s fastest-selling cars, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed days to turn figures provided by Kelley Blue Book, vehicle research and valuation site. This figure measures the average number of days a particular model spent on dealers’ lots following its arrival until it was sold in 2015. Additionally, Kelley Blue Book provided figures on U.S. sales by model for 2013, 2014, and 2015. We also reviewed monthly sales releases published by auto manufacturers. Manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) figures, come from the manufacturers’ websites.

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

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