Despite already-bloated inventories at its dealers, GM’s production lines ran full throttle during September and October. Thanks to that ramp-up and unimpressive sales growth, retail inventories grew by an astonishing 99,000 in October and November. Dealers received five vehicles for every four they sold during those two months, bringing their on-hand stocks from an already unsustainable 689,000 in September to an absolutely ridiculous 788,000. GM estimates that its dealers have a 4-1/2 month supply of full-size pickups — if the economy doesn’t tank.
It seems all too likely that a presidential campaign which used “GM is alive, Osama is dead” as its campaign theme ordered or pressured GM executives to keep the assembly lines running all-out regardless of the business consequences. The campaign of challenger Mitt Romney should have been paying closer attention, as half of GM’s inventory spike occurred and was reported before Election Day. But instead, it let itself get distracted by mostly irrelevant noise about Chrysler’s plans for its Jeep brand in China. It even missed touting Chrysler parent Fiat’s announcement that it plans to manufacture a new Jeep model for the North American market in Italy.