Car Market Is Expected to Cool Amid Dearth of Vehicles on Lots

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The dwindling number of vehicles on dealership lots is threatening to cool the U.S. car market’s blistering sales pace.

Analysts are expecting new-car sales from June to fall off from recent months, when car shoppers turned out in near-record numbers, buoyed by excess household savings and pent-up demand from the pandemic. Most car makers are scheduled Thursday to report U.S. sales results for June.

Customers are still clamoring for a new ride, dealers say. But it has become harder for salespeople to match buyers to vehicles because of the lack of inventory caused by the computer-chip shortage that has hobbled car production since winter.

“We really don’t have enough cars to go around,” said Joe Shaker, owner of Shaker Automotive Group, which sells several brands in Connecticut and Massachusetts. He said his Ford store is carrying about 14% of its normal inventory.

New-vehicle sales in the first half of the year are expected to reach about 8.3 million units, according to an estimate from J.D. Power, a 32% increase over the same period a year earlier and up nearly 1% from the first half of 2019.

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