GM, Ford expecting a UAW fight that FCA will miss?
General Motors (GM) and Ford stocked up on vehicles for September, as GM faces difficult talks with the United Auto Workers (UAW). The UAW picked America’s largest automaker, GM, as a strike target this year; it extended its contracts with Ford and Fiat Chrysler (FCA) by a month so there would only be one negotiation at a time.
GM started the month with many strengths, including the use of a corruption scandal within the UAW (not implicating anyone on the negotiating team) and a stunning 820,000 cars and trucks in inventory. That number, based on Automotive News estimates, is good for a whopping 80 days of sales, though on some products the inventory is tighter. Cadillac has a 94-day supply and Buick has a 104-day supply, so the higher-margin brands should come out well even if there is a strike—as long as buyers don’t insist on custom-ordering from the factory. Chevrolet has a total of 76 days of supply; GMC has 82.
Ford has also stocked up, and is holding 621,000 cars and trucks—an 82-day supply. The high-end Lincoln brand has a 101-day supply of cars and trucks, though some of that may not be intentional (a 105-day supply of Mustangs is not likely to be part of a strike preparation strategy; a 104-day supply of Explorers might be).
Meanwhile, FCA seems to think the negotiations will go well, or is more scared of a recession than a strike. The company has 514,000 vehicles stashed here and there, which is a 67-day supply—not outrageously high. While Fiat doesn’t have large absolute numbers, lack of sales success has given it a 148-day supply. The distribution of inventory doesn’t show any preference for higher-end cars or trucks.
It may be a coincidence, but it sure looks as though GM and Ford are gearing up for tough negotiations, while FCA figures its new Detroit plant and smaller size will help it through.
Clark Westfield grew up fixing up and driving past-their-prime American cars, including an F-body Camaro and Mopar V8s. He has ghostwritten auto news for the last few years, lives in Farmingdale, New York, and can be reached at +1.516-531-4021.