General Motors entered December with bloated inventories reminiscent of its prebankruptcy days-and its lowest market share in 90 years.
GM will try to fix both problems in a hurry.
Dealers say the company has begun rolling out bigger discounts on many models, including the redesigned Chevrolet Malibu sedan and GM's full-sized pickups. GM had 243,691 pickups -- a 138-day supply -- on hand at the end of November.
GM purposely built up stocks this year in preparation for 29 total weeks that its truck plants would be down for retooling. But last week, GM acknowledged that it's likely to end the year above its target of about an 85-day supply. About 40 percent of its current full-sized pickup inventory is 2012 models.
"The incentives that changed this month are crazy. Almost everything went up," said Jill Green, owner of Green Chevrolet in East Moline, Ill. "If anyone was going to buy a truck, I can't imagine they're going to get it any cheaper than they are this month."
On Friday, GM launched a program that gives dealers the option to add as much as $2,000 in customer cash on 2012 and 2013 Chevrolet Silverados and GMC Sierras. That's atop the $1,000 in bonus cash GM already was offering on the trucks. The amount of money dealers will get to play with is based on the number of pickups on their lots. GM also is sweetening lease deals on the Chevrolet Malibu, Cruze and Traverse.
Some dealers plan to deploy the fresh incentives to put some eye-popping numbers in their ads. Green said her store is planning to advertise Silverado pickups at up to $11,000 off sticker price this month, and Green Buick-GMC, across the Mississippi River in Davenport, Iowa, expects to offer $10,000 discounts on some GMC Sierras.
GM is trying to sell down its inventory of 2012 and 2013 pickups as much as possible before introducing redesigned 2014 models by next summer.
"I'm overloaded" with pickups, said Carroll Smith, owner of Monument Chevrolet in Pasadena, Texas. "I've got them everywhere."