Vehicle inventories are back to normal, thanks to solid sales and a surge in large-pickup volume in February.
Stocks of unsold light vehicles on March 1 fell to a 64-day supply, from 75 days a month earlier, within the optimum range of 60 to 65 days. On a unit basis, automakers added 71,900 vehicles last month, but that's because February is a higher-volume sales month than January.
The eight largest automakers trimmed stocks significantly, with one exception: Volkswagen Group of America stayed flat at 81 days.
The Detroit 3 were the most aggressive in reducing stocks. General Motors and Chrysler Group reduced supplies by 16 days, and Ford Motor Co. cut 15 days. Much of that came from a 17 percent February surge in sales of full-sized pickups, a segment in which those automakers hold a 93 percent market share.
Ford had a 95-day supply of the F series (down 16 days); Ram had a 100-day supply of pickups (down 17 days). At GM, which had been dinged by analysts for having too many 2013 models prior to launching redesigned 2014s this year, the GMC Sierra was at 113 days (down 16 days) and the Chevrolet Silverado was at 92 days (down 21 days).
Those pickup stock levels, while higher than those of most other cars and light trucks, are normal for pickups this time of year. Because they have so many body styles, powertrain and equipment choices, dealers typically carry more pickups on their lots to make sure they can meet customers' needs. And spring is a peak sales period for pickups.
Mitsubishi slashed its stocks to 72 days on March 1 from 107 days a month earlier. That broke a string of eight straight months above 100 days, peaking at 146 days on Dec. 1.