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Tight Inventories Set the Stage for U.S. Auto Industry Rebound

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Reuters, Sept. 28, 2020 – U.S. automakers are facing a problem most forecasters and industry executives did not expect when the pandemic slammed the economy this spring: Strong demand and lean inventories at dealerships.

Automakers report September U.S. sales on Thursday, and forecasters expect the annualized sales pace will exceed the August rate of 15.2 million vehicles. Consumer demand for high-profit SUVs and pickup trucks has recovered rapidly since the spring.

Detroit automakers say their plants are now running at close to full speed in order to re-stock showrooms.

Even so, North American production is about 2 million vehicles behind last year, said Charlie Chesbrough, senior economist at research agency Cox Auto. “The consumer demand after the shutdown ended was very strong and it continues to outpace the ability of the industry to stock the shelves,” he said.

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