New Car Market 2024: Why Auto Dealers Are Desperate Right Now – GOBankingRates

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As we navigate through 2024, the auto dealership landscape is facing a unique challenge. Many car dealers entered the year drastically oversupplied, a situation that continues to impact the market dynamics. While February sales numbers indicate that dealerships are making progress in selling down their backlog of inventory, the situation remains tense. Here’s why dealers are feeling the pressure right now:

Oversupply Issues

Car prices are primarily governed by supply and demand. An ideal scenario for most car dealers is to maintain about 60 selling days’ worth of cars in stock. This inventory level typically ensures that dealers have a good combination of colors and features to meet customer preferences, reducing the risk of potential buyers going to rival dealerships with better selections.

However, the current market is far from ideal. Dealers nationwide ended January with an average of 80 days’ worth of cars on hand, and while this number dropped slightly to 76 days by the end of February, it’s still significantly higher than the industry guideline. The excess inventory is a financial burden for dealers, as they often borrow money to buy cars from the factory and make payments on them. The longer vehicles sit unsold, the more they cost the dealers in interest payments.

The Impact of High Inventory

With 2.74 million new vehicles on hand at the beginning of March, dealers are sitting on a surplus of 942,000 units compared to the same time last year – a staggering 52% increase. Brands like Ram, Chrysler, Jeep, and Dodge, all under the Stellantis umbrella, ended the month with more than double the industry’s average supply.

This oversupply forces dealers to resort to discounting cars to attract buyers and reduce their inventory. While this might seem like good news for consumers, it’s a desperate move for dealers trying to mitigate their financial losses.

The Path Forward for Dealerships

To navigate this challenging market, dealerships need to adopt a multifaceted approach:

  1. Aggressive Marketing: Dealers must ramp up their marketing efforts to attract more buyers. This could include offering special promotions, financing deals, and leveraging digital marketing to reach a broader audience.
  2. Inventory Management: Dealerships need to closely monitor their inventory levels and adjust their purchasing strategies accordingly. This might involve delaying new orders from manufacturers or focusing on selling slower-moving models.
  3. Customer Incentives: Offering additional incentives to customers, such as extended warranties, free maintenance packages, or cashback offers, can help entice buyers and move inventory.
  4. Transparent Communication: Dealers should be transparent with customers about the current market conditions and how they can benefit from the oversupply situation.
  5. Long-term Planning: Dealerships must also look beyond the immediate crisis and plan for the future. This includes staying informed about market trends, consumer preferences, and potential shifts in the automotive industry.


The new car market in 2024 presents a challenging landscape for dealers, with oversupply issues leading to a sense of desperation. However, by adopting strategic approaches to marketing, inventory management, and customer engagement, dealers can navigate these turbulent times and position themselves for success in the long run.

Editor’s note: This article was produced via automated technology and then fine-tuned and verified for accuracy by a member of GOBankingRates’ editorial team.

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