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Inventories swelling

by David Zatz on

Chrysler dealers have been putting more and more cars onto their lots, apparently ignoring lessons of the past, but even so, GM and Ford dealers have put Chrysler into third place among domestic automakers with large inventories. GM has 96 days of inventory out and about, according to Automotive News’ Dec. 1 tallies, with Ford at 93 days and Chrysler at 91.  All but GM are up from their numbers last year, far higher than most import companies; overall, inventories have reached a 17-month high, not so long after automakers vowed to keep stock under control. (Automotive News wrote that 60 days is an ideal figure).

At Chrysler, both cars and trucks are stacking up; most troubling might be Ram’s 111-day inventory supply, representing 126,800 trucks. Pickups do require greater inventory than cars, in general, due to the large variety involved: Rams range from rear wheel drive 1500s to 4×4 5500s chassis cabs, not counting the separately-counted vans. Ford and GM also both lump all their pickups/chassis cabs together, to get more favorable sales figures.

Fiat 500 and 500L are both sore spots as well, with 195 days’ of 500 and 206 of 500L (16,000 and 7,400 units, respectively), as Fiat was caught by surprise in a sudden drop in the minicar market. Mini sales also dropped, but Mini only has 61 days’ supply on lots.

The company claims 178 days’ supply of ProMasters, but that’s fewer than six thousand vans, and it’s a new model that many buyers don’t know has hit the lots yet.

cherokee-lots

Minivans are among the few vehicles in short supply at Chrsyler, with just 53 days of Caravans and 50 of Town & Country, practically Asian inventory levels. Cherokee has gone from nothing to 82 days’ supply, but that’s based on a short sales month; it seems likely that Jeep dealers will burn through the 32,100 Cherokees fairly quickly. Grand Cherokee and Durango are the other “good news” cars, with 56 days of Grand Cherokee and 64 of Durango. Patriot and Wrangler sit at 75 and 76 days, respectively.

Most other Chrysler vehicles are at over 100 days’ supply, an unhealthy figure. 200 and Avenger may be excused — the 65,000 midsized cars on lots will doubtless be needed as the factory stops producing the current models and moves to the next generation, which many expect to sell at a higher starting price given a much higher standard-feature level.

The Dodge Dart story, according to several dealership representatives who talked with Allpar, is mixed: the 2014s seem to be selling well, but there are leftover 2013s which, with their smaller engines, are harder to sell, especially given low fuel prices.

Honda stands at 75 days of inventory, with CR-Z, Fit, Insight, Crosstour, Acura TL and RLX, and Ridgelines clogging their lots; Toyota is at 62 days and does not report individual models. Volkswagen/Audi sits in a worse position than Chrysler after a sales plunge, with 97 days’ worth of cars on lots — mainly from their core Volkswagen brand.

On the lighter side, Automotive News also noted that many dealers stock up in November and December, to increase their full-year numbers, which can provide them with greater clout, lower prices, or other benefits.

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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