Inventories dropped a bit in March. The industry reported a 58-day supply on April 1 - down slightly from 59 days a month earlier and significantly below the 68-day supply of a year ago.
Many sales records were set in March, which helped keep the days' supply below the 60-day benchmark for the second month in a row.
Ford Motor Co. stocks were right at 60 days, down from 65 a month earlier. Light trucks such as the Ford Expedition, F-series pickup and Lincoln Navigator were all below 60 days. Ford's light-truck sales in March were the highest of any month ever.
General Motors, which had slightly higher sales but lost market share last month, had a 69-day supply, down from 70 on March 1. Chevrolet had a 54-day supply of full-sized pickups, up from 47 days.
Roy Roberts, vice president and group executive of North America vehicle sales, service and marketing, said GM could have sold more Chevy and GMC big pickups in March with bigger inventories.
DaimlerChrysler had a 59-day supply April 1, down from 61 a month earlier. Stocks fell sharply for Plymouth, Dodge and Chrysler minivans, with some help from incentives.
Mercedes-Benz dropped to a 29-day supply of cars and trucks, from 33. Spokeswoman Donna Boland said the M-class sport-utility is in short supply because the Alabama factory is shipping extra units to Europe to introduce a new model. For the year to date, U.S. sales of the six-cylinder ML320 were off 40.4 percent. Including the V-8 ML430, which is new for the 1999 model year, U.S. M-class sales were off 10 percent after three months.