Gas prices are high, and America’s car lots are full of the least fuel-efficient vehicles.
Dealers have a thin supply of hybrids and fuel-efficient small cars to sell. You’ll have a much easier time finding a full-size truck or 3-row SUV in dealer stock.
Dealers measure their supply of cars to sell in a metric called “days of inventory” – how long it would take them to sell out of cars at the current rate if they didn’t acquire any new stock.
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They’re historically low on everything right now. At the end of May, dealers had an average of 34 days’ worth of cars to sell – 25% fewer than a year ago.
But the numbers are worse for more fuel-efficient cars. Dealers ended the month with an average of just 19 days’ worth of compact cars available. They had 20 days’ worth of hybrid cars and just 22 days’ worth of midsize cars.
At the other end of the mpg scale, the story is much better. Dealers ended May with 45 days’ worth of full-size SUVs in stock. They had a 49-day supply of full-size pickups. They held nearly 60 days’ worth of high-end luxury cars like the BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class – heavyweight cars with powerful engines that often post truck-like fuel-economy numbers.
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Blame the microchips again
The problem is partly demand – high gas prices have Americans searching for more fuel-efficient cars.
But it’s also the ongoing global microchip shortage.
SUVs and pickup trucks are higher-margin cars. They make more money for automakers than small sedans.
Short on microchips, automakers have found themselves unable to build as many vehicles as the market demands. To stay afloat, they’re using the chips they can acquire to build their most profitable models. That leaves fewer small, fuel-efficient vehicles rolling out factory doors.
This story originally ran on KBB.com.