May Deals Unlocked Demand;
How Inventory Can Stave Off June Gloom

Rising new-car sales, improving inventory, and pent-up demand suggest this just might be the summer of a sustained and stable recovery.

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What we’re watching

New car sales are the foundation and lifeblood of a thriving auto industry. They propel dealers, trade-ins, and used cars on the retail side and shape future products, styles and designs on the production side.

The industry has endured nearly five years of uncertainty and challenges, ranging from the global pandemic (which led to a deficit of 10 million units in new-car sales from 2020-23) to electric-vehicle regulatory changes (which sparked changes in product strategy from major automakers) to a 2023 United Auto Workers strike (which lead to an estimated 800,000 in lost production). Still, a stable recovery is in the works, with ever-improving inventory availability, new products launching and consumers believing the right car is on the right lot for them to purchase.

New-car sales are on a promising upward trajectory, as evidenced by a seasonal MoM increase in May related to Memorial Day sales events and the start of the summer buying season. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the new-car SAAR hit 15.9MM in May; this is the highest SAAR in 2024, and the SAAR has only exceeded that three other times since the chip shortage took hold in mid-2021.

Used-car inventory saw signs of improvement lower prices. Inventory increased by 4% month over month thanks to trade-ins from strong new-car sales and average price of used cars dropped 7% year over year to $28,861.

Furthermore, inventory is on the rise, up 4.3% MoM and 39.7% YoY as supply recovers and automakers slowly but steadily increase production of new products. This is evident in our own marketplace, where in May, saw 2.32MM new vehicles listed throughout the month, the highest inventory level since December 2020. The increased product availability will drive new-car sales through the summer, avoiding a June gloom and offering a more comprehensive range of used vehicles as well.

We’re seeing very similar metrics in the EV market, with plenty of available new and used inventory — leaning perhaps toward too much, so it’s something to keep an eye on. 

With an average price of $63,030, 28% above the new-vehicle average price, new EVs are a luxury item still working hard to push through to the mainstream market. While curiosity in EVs grows, the segment needs new products at lower prices or OEM incentives to help reach a broader customer base, paving the way for a more sustainable and eco-friendly mobility future.

Rebecca Lindland
Sr. Director of Industry Data and Insights, Cars Commerce

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