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Auto blogWed, 05 Dec 2012
Automotive News reports that General Motors may slash production or ramp up discounts in order to deal with an oversupply of pickup trucks. GM currently has more than double the standard supply of pickups, and the vehicles are threatening to dampen the automaker's profits for 2013. Typically, automakers try to sustain a 60- to 75-day supply of vehicles, but GM is currently loaded with a 139-day supply, as of last month. At the end of November, the automaker was sitting on 245,853 units.
The manufacturer says that it will adjust production accordingly before laying any incentives on the profitable pickups. Even so, there's some concern that the inventory swell could hurt the roll-out of the next-generation Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra. GM actually began slowly stepping back production in August, but it's clear the company will take further action as it heads toward the end of the year and into the next. Analysts predict the automaker could reduce pickup manufacturing by nearly half in the first quarter of 2013.
That still may not be enough to keep GM from laying extra cash on the Silverado and GMC Sierra. While the company's incentive spending was down in November compared to the same month in 2011, both the Ram 1500 and Ford F-150 saw double-digit percentage increases in sales last month while the Silverado and Sierra numbers slid compared to a year prior. Incentive spending could help move more trucks and add some balance to the GM inventory surge.
Can A Fleet Queen Become a Fullsize King?
On paper, the Chevrolet Impala is a pretty strong seller, posting annual sales that have hovered right around 170,000 units for the last two years, but it only takes one trip to practically any rental car agency to discover where the majority of those sales have come from. In fact, General Motors told Autoblog that a full 70 percent of Impala sales last year went to fleet companies for things like rental cars and government vehicles. Logic tells us that this is neither good for resale values nor name equity, so Chevrolet is getting ready to roll out an all-new Impala with improved comfort, styling and technology, hoping to turn the tables on its retail-to-fleet ratio.
Chevrolet's sedans have come on quite strong in the last few months with the introduction of the Cruze diesel and the SS sedan, but while these will likely be low-volume sellers, there's more pressure for the new Impala to perform well as GM looks to slash fleet sales and compete with the wide variety of full-size sub-luxury sedans. Riding on a platform shared with the Buick LaCrosse and Cadillac XTS, the 2014 Impala will compete against the Hyundai Azera, Ford Taurus and Toyota Avalon on the more traditional side, while also looking to take a bite out of somewhat sportier models like the Chrysler 300/Dodge Charger twins and the Nissan Maxima. We headed to sunny San Diego to see if this totally new Impala can stand on its own without the assistance of fleet companies and rental agencies. [w/video
As inventory of the Chevrolet Malibu and Buick LaCrosse continues to pile up, General Motors will be idling its Fairfax Assembly Plant for two weeks, according to Automotive News. This move comes about a month after the plant was shut down for three weeks in late December and early January for the same reason. As of January 31, the GM had a 94-day supply of Malibu stock while the LaCrosse was a little worse with a 117-day supply.
Just last week, GM announced that it would be investing $600 million in upgrading this plant, but it's unclear what future plans the company has in store for Fairfax considering slow sales of both the plant's models. We do expect a refreshed and more luxurious LaCrosse shortly and an early design update for the Malibu to be announced at some point this year, although we have had no official word as to when either will happen.