While the abundance of commercials for cars across all media this time of year is nothing new, the manufacturers (and even more so the dealers) are likely getting more desperate. As Bloomberg reports, inventory climbed to almost 3.4 million cars and light trucks entering November - at 76 days of supply, that was the highest for the month since 2005
. This should come as no surprise as we previously noted GM's post-crisis highs in channel stuffing
as hope remains high that the recent slowdown in sales does not continu
e. The question, of course, is, "will manufacturers be responsible and curb production to keep inventory in check, or are some going to resort to old, bad habits and churn it out and then throw incentives on them."
We suspect we know the margin-crushing answer.
Via Wards Auto,
the levels harken back to early in last decade when steep price discounting was used to prop volumes
Excluding 2008 when the industry was heading into recession, LV inventory totaled 3.397 million at the end of October, highest for the month since 3.803 million in 2004. October’s 76-day supply, was the highest for the month since 77 in 2005.
By comparison, sales in 2013 mostly have run at highs dating to 2007, suggesting inventory is getting ahead of the curve
GM just saw the biggest two month jump in inventory in the restructured company's history.
Carmakers have boosted production to meet demand that has left the industry on pace for the best sales year since 2007. Swelling supply raises the stakes for sales in November after deliveries missed estimates in October and slipped in September for the first time in 27 months.
If buyers don’t absorb enough inventory, more automakers, including Toyota Motor Corp. (7203) and Honda Motor Co., may need to follow Ford Motor Co.’s lead by trimming production to avoid margin-slicing discounts.
“Inventory has been so tightly managed, and it has been because demand has been there and production hasn’t been able to keep up,” Jeff Schuster, an analyst with researcher LMC Automotive, said in a telephone interview. “If you change that scenario around, the question is, does the discipline that we’ve seen the industry operate with lately stick around?”
“As the market begins to slow down and begins to peak, it’s going to get tougher for everybody,”
Joe Langley, the head of North American vehicle production analysis for IHS Automotive, said by telephone. “Are manufacturers going to be responsible and curb production and keep inventory in check, or are some going to resort to old, bad habits and churn it out and then throw incentives on them
? That’s what’s going to be interesting, to see how that plays out.”
Wesley Lutz, a Chrysler dealer in Jackson, Michigan, said his store has about 120 days supply of vehicles in stock, roughly double what he usually likes to carry. Lutz cited his anticipation of strong winter and spring selling seasons and his ability to borrow at less than 2 percent to finance the inventory on his lot.
“I’m probably not managing my inventory as well as I do at 8 percent, but I’m willing to roll the dice and stock some inventory in December and January, because I think we’re going to have a great market in February,” Lutz said by telephone. “We’re borrowing money so cheaply.”
“If it’s an underwhelming month, we’ll need to look to see if there are any decisions to start to ratchet back” productio
n this month or in January, LMC’s Schuster said. “It could end up being the first real test that the industry’s faced since the restructuring
Sadly, there it is - due to intervention-driven low rates, mal-investment occurs from the bottom-up - and now we have the most inventory in 8 years... car makers and dealers (perhaps more so) will be hoping hard this season... the 'field of dreams' economy continues