It's the oldest story in the book: Ya can't sell 'em if ya give 'em away.
To their sorrow, General Motors and Ford Motor Co. realized how true that is as they wept over their October sales. For the month, U.S. sales of GM's North American brands were down 25.6 percent from last year; Ford's North American brands plunged 26.1 percent.
Throughout the summer, GM and Ford sold new cars and trucks to all comers at employee prices, which were well below dealer cost. Now even the so-called value-priced 2006 models are thousands of dollars more, and shoppers are saying, "No thanks."
For example, last summer GM advertised a new Chevrolet Silverado extended-cab four-wheel-drive pickup at $23,603, including transportation. Today the lowest-priced such model is $25,945 after deducting the $2,500 customer rebate. Same truck, but it's $2,342 (about 10 percent) more. Any wonder customers aren't interested?
When you factor in the high price of gasoline, it's no surprise that GM truck sales were down 36.2 percent last month and Ford truck sales were down 32.8 percent.
Naturally, the gas-swilling large SUVs took the biggest hit, down 49.7 percent. That segment is composed of the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, Ford Expedition and Excursion, GMC Yukon and Yukon XL, Nissan Armada and Toyota Sequoia.