U.S. sales may be down compared to 2006 and 2007 levels, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a buyers market. Several automakers, including Audi, Porsche, Hyundai, and Kia, are facing record demand for their products, and are having trouble keeping U.S. showrooms stocked with inventory.
Audi’s sales have been increasing around the world, causing a strain on supply everywhere -- but the growing pains are particularly sharp in the U.S. Audi typically aims to have a 60-day supply of all vehicles, but demand has whittled inventories down to a 27-day supply. Some models, such as the Q5 and Q7, typically sell within 20 days of arriving at a showroom. Dealers would love more inventory, but Johan de Nysschen, president of Audi of America, tells Automotive News the company won’t be able to increase supplies until the third or fourth quarter of 2011.
Another prestigious Volkswagen Group brand -- Porsche -- finds itself in a similar situation. Although North American consumers are snapping up Panamera sedans and Cayenne SUVs left and right, COO Michael Barsch told AN that every Porsche model -- including the pricey 911 -- is facing a shortage.
Premium imports aren’t the only companies facing potential gaps in supply. Thanks in part to record growth in North America, Hyundai has been facing supply and demand issues for some time now. The company shifted production of its Santa Fe crossover to another facility to increase production of the popular Sonata midsize sedan. With the launch of the new Elantra -- which is built in the same Alabama assembly plant -- demand for both models may outstrip production capacity. If that wasn’t enough to worry about, suppliers haven’t always been able to keep pace, further restricting the production of select models and trim levels.
Hyundai’s corporate sibling, Kia, shares some of the same headaches. The brand is currently working on adding a third shift to its manufacturing plant in West Point, Georgia, in order to keep pace with consumer demand for the Sorento crossover. Dealers across the country are also reporting shortages of the Sportage and Optima, but hope inventories of the latter will increase once production ramps up in March.
Barring a flux in the consumer market or an automaker adding production capacity, these shortages are likely to persist for some time. As a result, don’t be surprised if a dealer isn’t bending over backwards to cut an amazing deal on a vehicle. Instead, be thankful you can find some of these popular vehicles to begin with.