Pickups keep piling up
Sales of full-sized pickups are starting to grow, and no manufacturer wants dealers to run out of the high-margin workhorses. But the four best-selling nameplates started February with abnormally high inventories.
The Ford F series, Ram pickup and the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra twins combined for 530,300 units on Feb. 1. That was 31 percent higher than a year earlier and enough to last at least 115 selling days at January's sales pace.
Toyota and Nissan do not report inventories for individual models, but together the Toyota Tundra and Nissan Titan have only a 7 percent share of the large pickup segment.
Automakers normally carry bigger stocks of pickups because the trucks have so many different body styles and powertrains. And having extra pickups before the spring selling season is also typical.
But General Motors also has been stockpiling Silverados and Sierras ahead of retooling for a new generation of 2014 pickups later this year. Some analysts think GM has too many carry-over 2013s. GM started the month with a 113-day supply of Silverados, up from 78 days on Jan. 1, and 129 days of the Sierra, up from 87 days. GM says it is on schedule.
Barclay's Capital analyst Brian Johnson says something must give.
"We reiterate our view that GM will need to correct its inventory either through first-half production cuts or increased incentive spending," he said.
Overall industry inventories on Feb. 1 rose 1.6 percent to 3.1 million units from the month before. On a supply basis, that's up to 74 days from 58 a month earlier, but Feb. 1 stocks remain well below the 10-year average of 82 days for this time of year.
You can reach Jesse Snyder at firstname.lastname@example.org.