Like an industrywide game of limbo, dealers and automakers are bending over backward and otherwise contorting themselves to keep up with red-hot consumer demand for new vehicles as inventories continue to shrivel up because of production stoppages

Inventory levels in the U.S. began to recede again in January as stronger retail demand and production issues dragged stocks back below 3 million, well below where they were a year earlier. Cox Automotive estimates U.S. inventory