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6 hard-to-find cars, alternatives

By Claes Bell, CFA · Bankrate.com
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Posted: 12 pm ET

Sometimes in the car-buying process, you have to decide whether to keep looking for the perfect car, or go ahead and settle down with the best option available. If you're having a particularly tough time finding that ideal auto right now, you're not alone. Conditions on both the supply and demand ends of the auto market are making some vehicles tough to get a hold of.

On the supply side, many automakers spent two or three years after the recession hit adjusting to falling demand for autos by downsizing. As a result, many automakers' production capacity was lacking even before the Japan disaster radically curtailed production of key parts for automakers worldwide. On the demand side, U.S. auto sales, especially of fuel-efficient cars, have surged from 2010 lows, thanks to a slow but measurable recovery in lenders' appetite for making auto loans, consumer confidence and economic growth.

That combination is causing "days-supply," or the number of days it would take to sell out all remaining vehicles if no more were produced, to drop below the industry standard of 60 for many popular vehicles.

NADAguides has an interesting report this week on which autos are being hit hardest by this double whammy, as well as some suggestions on alternatives for car buyers who can't wait for supplies to return to normal. Here's their list, in no particular order:

1. Ford Explorer

Year-over-year sales increase: 138 percent

Overall industry vehicle sales rank for April: 22

Days' worth of supply at the end of April: 29

MSRP: $28,360

Possible alternative: The GMC Acadia, with an MSRP: $32,000 and 68 days-supply of inventory.

2. Honda Civic

Year-over-year sales increase: 7 percent

Overall industry vehicle sales rank for April: 5

Days' worth of supply at the end of April: 23

MSRP: $15,805

Possible alternative: Mitsubishi Lancer, with an MSRP of $15,195 and 88 days-supply of inventory.

3. Hyundai Elantra

Year-over-year sales increase: 117 percent

Overall industry vehicle sales rank for April: 12

Days' worth of supply at the end of April: 12

MSRP: $14,945

Possible alternative: The 2011 Suzuki SX4, with an MSRP of $13,499, and 94 days-supply of inventory.

4. Hyundai Sonata

Year-over-year sales increase: 17 percent

Overall industry vehicle sales rank for April: 8

Days' worth of supply at the end of April: 27

MSRP: $19,395

Possible alternative: The Nissan Altima with an MSRP of $20,270, and 64 days-supply of inventory.

5. Kia Sorento

Year-over-year sales increase: 41 percent

Overall industry vehicle sales rank for April: 24

Days' worth of supply at the end of April: 29

MSRP: $20,995

Possible alternative: The Mazda CX-7, with an MSRP of $21,990, and 67 days-supply of inventory.

6. 2011 Toyota Prius

Year-over-year sales increase: None

Overall industry vehicle sales rank for April: 23

Days' worth of supply at the end of April: 10

MSRP: $22,120

Possible alternative: The Honda CR-Z, with an MSRP of $19,345, and 69 days-supply of inventory.

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1 Comment
Matt
June 16, 2011 at 3:31 pm

interesting read! thanks.