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Inventories, sales per dealer

by David Zatz on

Automotive News has published its monthly inventory list, and Chrysler’s inventory has swollen in terms of days sold compared with November. The company as a whole has 117 says’ supply of product, around 400,000 units of unsold inventory spread across its dealers and channels. In contrast, Ford had 101 days (500,000 units) and GM had 139 days worth (853,000 units).

Major import brands also saw increases, with Honda up to 107 days (from 91) and Toyota up to 90 days (from 74). Suzuki, GM, Volkswagen, and Mazda had the largest inventories of the majors, in terms of days’ supply.

At Chrysler, the hardest hit brand was Jeep, with 129 days’ inventory; Chrysler brand had just 96 days’ inventory. The worst carline was the Belvedere triplets, with 198 days of Caliber, 238 days of Compass, and 199 days of Patriot inventory sitting on lots. The only other vehicle with comparable inventories (in days) is the Journey, with a 198 day supply – up from 134 days as the factory has ramped up but customers have not.

In contrast, the Durango was down to just 61 days, Aspen was at 66, and Grand Cherokee was at 86, thanks to inventory adjustments followed by the crash in gas cost. The Durango/Aspen plant is scheduled to shut down this week, leaving around 10,000 vehicles in inventory and hopefully avoiding the lingering effects seen with Pacifica and Magnum inventory (2,500 Pacificas and 100 Magnums appear to be remaining on lots).

Other vehicles with relatively short supplies include the PT Cruiser (70 days as the factory has shifted production to the Journey), Charger (98 days), and Dakota (88 days despite a very slow November). Challengers are in moderately short supply, with 7,100 available on December 1.

As for the highest volume vehicles: Ram sits at 127 days with nearly 80,000 trucks on the lots as of December 1, which could be a problem for dealers as the 2009s come out – at the same time the 2009 F-150 is gathering publicity. The minivans have a respectable 103 and 108 days’ inventory for Chrysler and Dodge respectively – around 56,000 units combined.

The more troubling figures may well be the sales per franchise within the United States. Chrysler has dealer representation appropriate for the pre-Daimler years, and the average dealer racked up very few sales in November. While Toyota raked in 93 sales per dealership, presumably yielding high profits, Dodge dealers managed just 16 sales per dealership for the whole month – in line with luxury brands that have higher margins but not mass-market brands. Chrysler fared worse with a mere 8 sales per dealership, and Jeep, which has often been pared with Chrysler, eked out just 7 sales per dealer. While some dealers may be able to make it up with used cars and service, many are likely to sell out, declare bankruptcy, or switch franchises.

David Zatz founded Allpar in 1998 (based on a site he had begun in 1993-94), after years of writing reviews for retail trades. He has been quoted by the New York Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Detroit News, and USA Today. Before making Allpar a full-time career, he was a consultant in organizational psychology. You can reach him by using our contact form (much preferred) or by calling (313) 766-2304

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