Truck Wars on the Horizon – Car Pro News

General Motors has been cranking out pickups to stockpile them ahead of factory downtime this summer and fall, as it retools for the next-generation trucks due out by next summer.
Now it’s crunch time. The company wants to whittle its four-month supply to less than three months by year end. The plan: GM is extending its semi-annual truck month promotion, traditionally run in October, over two months and is throwing in big cash for both dealers and buyers.
GM faces tough competition from rivals Ford, Ram and Toyota, which are clearing out their own 2012 pickups and aren’t in any mood to cede market share.
GM kicked off the promotion right after Labor Day and plans to run it through October. Dealers are trumpeting as much as $3,500 in customer cash — $4,500 for buyers who are trading in vehicles — on most 2012 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra models.
The sales push is one step in a complex marketing maneuver. GM’s next-generation pickups, on an all-new platform, are slated for release by late spring as 2014s.
GM had to overbuild its inventory of both 2012 and 2013 models ahead of lost production time at three truck plants — in Flint, Mich.; Fort Wayne, Ind.; and Silao, Mexico. The retooling work has been done intermittently since early this year. Several more down weeks are scheduled for this fall. That left GM with a 122-day supply of Silverados and a 131-day supply of Sierras, or a combined 243,400 units, on Sept. 1. In September 2011, that number was 203,900.
Meanwhile, Ford Motor Co. is hitting the market with its annual F-series promotion in September and October. Chrysler Group is putting cash on the hood of the 2012 Ram ahead of next month’s arrival of the re-engineered 2013 Ram, and Toyota has comparable deals on the Tundra, last redesigned in early 2007.
GM’s rivals are well aware of GM’s lofty pickup inventory, and the threat of their counterattack has added urgency to GM’s sell-down.
“When I heard that Ford had announced their truck month [in September], I definitely felt it was the right thing to have the same timing in our plan,” says Alan Batey. The no-nonsense Brit and former Chevy sales boss made the call to start the sale in September in his current role as GM’s U.S. vice president of sales and service.
Ford is offering customers between $1,500 and $4,000 (more in some markets) on the 2012 F-series pickup, depending on engine and trim level, according to AIS Rebates, an Ann Arbor, Mich., company that tracks industry incentives. Chrysler is offering up to $3,500 cash on many 2012 Rams. Through Oct. 1, Toyota is offering up to $3,500 cash back on certain 2012 Tundras.
GM has said it expects its pickup inventory to fall to 80 to 85 days by year end. The company expects pickup sales to get the usual seasonal lift through the fall, aided further by promising economic signs, particularly in the critical housing sector. Lost production time will whittle stocks further.
For months, Chevy and GMC dealers have been strategizing as GM pumps the pickups into the system. Some ordered a larger number of trucks than usual, worried that they would run thin when production was crimped from the plant downtime, which began early this year but kicked in especially this summer and fall.


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