March sales melt winter's frozen stocks

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Brisk light-vehicle sales in March sharply reduced supply levels that had built up on U.S. dealership lots in January and February.

The industrywide days supply -- how long inventory would last at the previous month's sales pace -- fell to 63 days on April 1 from 76 on March 1. Supplies stood at 88 days on Feb. 1

The current level is in the middle of the 60- to 65-day range that is considered ideal.

Industrywide inventory declined 1 percent to 3.7 million light vehicles on April 1.

Using larger and targeted incentives to spark March sales, most automakers managed to rebalance stocks that had gotten out of whack during the winter months.

For example, Mitsubishi started April with a 68-day supply, a huge swing from 144 days on Feb. 1.

Combined, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group cut more units from their inventories than the industry as a whole.

The Detroit 3 successfully reduced bulging car stocks.

In the large pickup sector, Ford cut its F-series supply to 84 days from 98 a month earlier. Chrysler slashed its Ram pickup supply to 82 days from 114.

But General Motors could only trim its Chevrolet Silverado supply by four days to 115 and its GMC Sierra supply by six days to 96.

Every manufacturer except Daimler reduced supply levels last month. Daimler's supply grew to 49 days from 47 on March 1.

You can reach Jesse Snyder at jsnyder@crain.com.


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