News Column

Automakers Tap Brakes as Sales Take Off

September 4, 2013
auto factory

Automakers are expected to announce today that they sold more than 1.4 million cars and light trucks in the U.S. last month -- about a 14 percent increase -- despite shortages of some makes and models.

"It's a fascinating situation," said Karl Brauer, senior director of insights at Kelley Blue Book. "There's been a slow but steady ramp-up in car sales, but at the same time, a hesitancy among manufacturers to put too many resources into increased production capacity because when the economy contracted four years ago, they had to drastically cut production capacity. So they're trying to balance those two things as the economy grows and sales increase."

Some brands are doing well in types of vehicles that traditionally haven't done well, which presents a challenge for automakers who hadn't been sure how they would sell, Brauer said.

So many Ford Fusions, for example, have sold that the company started U.S. production last week of the car in Michigan, he said.

"They're short right now because they've had to recalibrate how many they need to produce," Brauer said.

Paul Costine, sales director of Cambridge Honda, said the Accord Sport is hard to get, and this year's Odyssey is "pretty much cleared out."

Dealers typically like to have a 45-day supply of cars on hand, but Rick White, general manager of Cityside Subaru in Belmont, said his supply of Foresters has been turning over every 15 days. White attributes the model's popularity to its redesign this year and 25 percent improvement in fuel efficiency.

"There's very high demand in the marketplace," he said.

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Source: Copyright Boston Herald (MA) 2013