Small Cars Stacking Up On US Dealer Lots

Honda, Toyota and Chevy small cars are sitting on lots from 125 to over 400 days at current sales rates.

Published: 23-Mar-2009

Last summer, when gas cost $4 a gallon, buyers snapped up small cars so fast that dealers couldn't keep them in stock. Now, with gas prices half that level, almost 500,000 fuel-thrifty models are piled up unsold around the country.

The turnabout comes at a bad time for the struggling U.S. car industry, which has revamped factories and shifted product plans to produce more small cars in coming years. The moves are prompted by coming stricter federal fuel-economy standards and the Obama administration's car-bailout plan, which encourages auto makers to boost their vehicles' mileage.

Practically every small car in the market is stacked up at dealerships. At the end of February, Honda Motor Co. had 22,191 Fits on dealer lots -- enough to last 125 days at the current sales rate, according to Autodata Corp. In July, it had a nine-day supply, while the industry generally considers a 55- to 60-day supply healthy.

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