U.S. consumers continued to spend wildly on new automobiles in the second quarter, pushing sales up 50.2% over last year despite tight dealer inventories and record high prices.
Automakers sold about 4.43 million vehicles from April through June, a figure 0.4% lower than in 2019, the last normal year before the coronavirus pandemic hit.
Despite the big jump from a year ago, there were signs that sales were slowing toward the end of the quarter, mostly because dealers had few vehicles to sell. A global shortage of computer chips has forced most automakers to cut production. But demand is still high as the coronvirus pandemic wanes and people look to buy vehicles for family road trips.
“Unfortunately the chipset and inventory shortages really came to a head and outstripped supply in June,” said Edmunds.com director of insights Jessica Caldwell. “This isn’t a problem that’s going away anytime soon.”
Consumers desperate for new vehicles often paid over the sticker price, pushing the average sales price in June above $40,000 for the first time, according to J.D. Power. Automakers cut discounts, but still sold vehicles. On average they had enough inventory to supply only 39 days of sales, down from 93 days a year ago, J.D. Power said.