Inventory levels: Lean and stable
Carmakers are keeping such tight control on inventories these days that the only vehicles showing unusually large or small stocks are models either being phased in or phased out of production.
The industry started September with 2.7 million unsold light vehicles. That's enough to last 57 days based on the August sales pace, the 16th time in 18 months the industry has been below its ideal 60-day supply.
Following the recession, automakers have been far more disciplined about matching production to demand. And with monthly U.S. auto sales running near a 14 million annual pace, inventories have largely stabilized at lean and steady levels.
So which vehicles have unusually large or small stocks? Mostly large pickups and mid-sized sedans that are shifting from one generation to the next. For example, Chrysler has a 99-day supply of Ram pickups, but that's mostly an intentional build-up of old models to last while production ramps up on the new model that debuted Sept. 10.
General Motors has carried extra pickups all year as it stocks up for a production shutdown and retooling for the all-new Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra models due early next year. On Sept. 1, GM had a 122-day supply of the Silverado and a 131-day supply of the Sierra.
Similarly, several automakers are launching new-generation, mid-sized sedans, which has put inventory levels out of balance.
With production of the re-engineered 2013 Ford Fusion about to begin, only a 28-day supply of outgoing 2012s is in stock. Stocks of the Honda Accord, a mix of old and new models, are at 35 days. The Mazda6, with a replacement model months off, is at 167 days. Dodge has a 127-day supply of the all-new Dart, but that's only 14,300 units and reflects low volume during the launch phase.
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