Inventory rises to match booming sales
Automakers started the month with the largest inventory in almost four years as new-vehicle sales continue to grow.
The inventory of 3.1 million unsold cars and light trucks on hand Dec. 1 was the highest since 3.2 million on Jan. 1, 2009. But circumstances are far better. In 2009, automakers were frantically shrinking stocks as sales bottomed out. Now supply is more in keeping with an expanding market.
On a days supply basis, the current stock is enough to last 69 selling days, down from 71 on Nov. 1 -- and below the 20-year industry average of 72 days at this time of year.
The only major automaker notably above seasonal levels is General Motors with a 106-day supply, up from 98 days a month earlier.
Chrysler Group went from an 83-day supply on Nov. 1 to 90 days on Dec. 1, and Hyundai-Kia Automotive's supply was flat at 42 days.
Ford Motor, American Honda, Nissan North America and Toyota Motor Sales all reduced their stocks, largely as a result of November sales jumping 15 percent to the highest seasonally adjusted annual selling rate since early 2008.
And GM's excessive inventory is mostly because of an excess of large pickups. GM has carried extra pickup stock most of this year as it prepares for extensive retooling at three assembly plants before launching a new generation of pickups.
But after November sales of the Chevrolet Silverado dropped 10 percent and the GMC Sierra was down 2 percent in a growing market, GM said it likely will miss its year-end target of an 85-day pickup supply. GM currently has a 138-day supply of the Silverado, up from 109 on Nov. 1, and a 146-day stock of Sierra.
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