New-vehicle inventories jumped to 63 days on Nov. 1, a sharp upturn from 54 days a month earlier.
As manufacturers increased production of 2000 models, October sales fell 1.3 percent below the year-ago month. It was the first time in 14 months that sales had trailed the year-earlier month.
Accordingly, the days' supply Nov. 1 was the highest since February. But the numbers are not as bad as they look. It was the first time since May 1 the days' supply had topped 60 days, the traditional benchmark for a 'normal' inventory.
Measuring inventory by units instead of days' supply also puts the numbers in context. The total inventory Feb. 1 was about 3 million cars and light trucks. That represented a 70-day supply. The Nov. 1 inventory was almost 3.3 million cars and light trucks, but that was a 63-day supply because sales are much stronger than they were last winter. General Motors had the highest days' supply among the domestic brands, at 79 days, up from 61 on a month earlier. That included an 86-day supply of light trucks, up from 67.
'When you talk about some specific brands, there are some imbalances, where you have too much of some, or too little of another,' said Paul Ballew, GM general director, market industry and analysis group. 'But overall, what you see is us really building up to sufficient numbers to meet market demand.'
GMC had a 90-day supply, for instance, up from 72, according to Automotive News.
Ford Motor Co. was at 67 days, up from 59 at the beginning of October.
DaimlerChrysler had a 68-day supply, up from 61.