General Motors has made inventory discipline a staple of its broader strategy to improve resale values and the image of its brands.
"Our strategy is simple: Grow profitable retail share while maintaining discipline with inventory levels and incentive spending, while reducing rental deliveries," Kurt McNeil, GM's U.S. vice president of sales operations, said in a March 1 statement detailing February results.
Sowers says the dealer council generally agrees with the strategy because it's forcing dealers to operate more efficiently.
"My personal opinion is that we've gotten a little bit fat because money is cheap and I can stack a ton of inventory and it doesn't cost much," he said. "We have to get better at managing that inventory and selling into the pipeline."
Still, he worries that relatively low stocks of the bread-and-butter Silverado, for example, could hamstring dealers' ability to sell against Ford and Ram. After enduring production constraints throughout 2015, Ford dealers were sitting on a 110-day supply of F-series pickups as of March 1. Ram had a 94-day supply while Silverado inventory was at 77 days.
Ford is "going to work hard to sell those," Sowers said. "We think the limitation for us is really going to be on the supply side."