TTAC Commentator Explains 90-Day Buick LaCrosse Inventory Over-Supply Promise

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

A TTAC Commentator emailed this about the what did she mean debate re: GM’s proposed inventory levels for the new Buick LaCrosse.:

Just an FYI, but the execs at Chrysler always looked at the dealer stock and total stock separately. Although the cause of this was as you pointed out – due to the sales bank where cars were being parked in overflow lot. The situation got so bad in 2008 that Chrysler had to track “unaccounted for and parked somewhere random” stock separately… but that’s a separate story. Hopefully New GM will never go the route of building thousands of unallocated cars (but I’m sure they’ll find a way). The two metrics were required because the various operating groups could be measured against the gap between dealer/total stock or the efficiency of the dealer stock. It just depended on what was being measured.

One of the major problems was that Marketing drove the forecast for how many cars to produce. It would be great if marketing were held responsible for total-stock numbers since then they’d be on the hook for a sales bank if they went that route. Unfortunately, this was not the case in either the Old Chrysler or Old GM.

Sure, there’s the argument that manufacturing should never build a car without a dealer order – but there’s always going to be noise in the system so a few units here and there are to be expected. It’s not possible to just slow down the line and build fewer cars since the manufacturing process at Lamborghini is much different than in a volume auto plant. Skips in the line are also amazingly expensive. Besides, a fleet customer really doesn’t care what options are on a car (I kid – I kid). But the unclaimed inventory can be mitigated if marketing is suddenly scorecarded in a manner to expose an unrealistic expectation of future orders.

I would imagine that it’s really easy for someone to gaff up on the semantics since the two metrics have their own objectives and scorecards internal to the company.

Robert Farago
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  • Joeaverage Joeaverage on Jul 20, 2009
    folkdancer: Maybe some manufacturer should try to build a car like an appliance. No options and any color as long as it is black. I wonder how low the manufacturer could get the price? t As soon as a car company built something really, really cheap the media and consumers would rip it to pieces for looking or feeling cheap. We're spoiled rotten in America. Got to have luxury or max performance (whether we need it or not) or the product is declared by many (too many) to be absolute crap (POS). What a shame. The car manufacturers won't be associated with a product like that. I'd really like to have a simple good quality vehicle that I could afford and work on myself too. Something that would last and last and that I could afford to buy parts for. Honda does/did a similar thing with their vehicle range. Basically I could buy my '99 CR-V as a low range LX or the upper range EX. Options were colors and transmission type. The LX could be bought with a few of the EX extras like ABS and AWD but the options list was pretty short. Most of the options amounted to trim accessories that the dealer could install - mudflaps, roofracks, stereo upgrades, trailer hitches. I think Detroit ought to simplify their products this way. I think of my VW Golf as being a simple vehicle and my Honda CR-V as being similar to that concept too. Basic but with a/c and a few creature comforts like pwr steering and windows. Am doing a timing belt over several days on the CR-V. $150 for parts (belt plus v-belts, cam and crank seals, 1 motor mount). Car has alot of miles -180K- so I'm doing a few extras. Easy to do after the first one. The first time round I wasted alot of time avoiding pulling off splash panels and a few unrelated components. This time I just pulled them off to get them out of the way and the job goes pretty quick. The Somerset was a break from the 70s cars I remember. Small but with alot of extras. Unfortunately I suspect too many Americans couldn't rationalize small and premium content. Still hear from family and friends who think buying the biggest vehicle they can afford is value. Not small with alot of features. Anybody remember the Somerset enough to say they were good cars or not? That digital dash worries me. Did it last? Could it be repaired for a reasonable cost? Was that Somerset as good as the current run of Buick Centurys?
  • JMII JMII on Jul 20, 2009

    Like joeaverage said Honda had this figured out years ago. The Civic came in LX, DX and EX models when my wife got her '93 sedan. You want a sunroof? Then you must get the EX model. Want cruise control then the LX will do. Don't care for anything more then power windows and locks, the DX is fine then. The interior colors are pre-matched to the exterior, buy a red car and you automatically get the grey interior, no other choices are available. Back in the day when I had got my '85 Civic you had 3 exterior colors and one interior: black! Acura is current king of the non-option option-list - GPS navigation is only check box available on most vehicles they sell. Now the option sheets & packages for the domestic vehicles are mess, there must be a thousand different combination before colors are even factored in. Out of the big(-ish) 3 I think Ford finally saw the light about two years ago and went on a major options clean-up in effort to keep inventory at a minimum by narrowing choices. Scion & Mini went the opposite direction, offering tons of combinations, but I think most (aside from paint colors) are dealer installed tid-bits like spoilers, wheels, fog lamps, etc. I wish more manufactures would take this approach. This way a base car could be super cheap and the dealer could actually provided a service by installing different bits at the time of purchase on a per customer basis.

  • Ronin The very asking of the question "Are Plug-In Hybrids the Future?" is an interesting one. Because just 2 or 3 years ago we'd be asking- no, asserting- that E cars are the future. We're no longer asking that question.
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  • Rust-MyEnemy Whoa, what the hell is wrong with Jalop1991 and his condescension? It's as if he's employed by Big Plug-In or something."I've seen plenty of your types on the forums....."Dunno what that means, but I'm not dead keen on being regarded as "A type" by a complete stranger"" I'm guessing you've never actually calculated by hand the miles you've driven against the quantity of gas used--which is your actual miles per gallon."Guess again. Why the hell would you even say that? Yes, I worked it out. Fill-to-fill, based on gas station receipts. And it showed me that a Vauxhall Astra PHEV, starting out with a fully charged PHEV battery, in Hybrid mode, on my long (234-mile) daily motorway daily commute, never, over several months, ever matched or beat the economy of the regular hybrid Honda Civic that I ran for a similar amount of time (circa 5000 miles)."You don't use gasoline at all for 30-40 miles as you use exclusively battery power, then your vehicle is a pure hybrid. Over 234 miles, you will have used whatever gas the engine used for 200 of those miles."At least you're right on that. In hybrid mode, though, the Astra was using battery power when it wasn't at all appropriate. The petrol engine very rarely chimed in when battery power was on tap, and as a result, the EV-mode range quickly disappeared. The regular hybrid Civic, though, deployed its very small electric reserves (which are used up quickly but restore themselves promptly), much more wisely. Such as when on a trailing throttle or on a downward grade, or when in stop-start traffic. As a result, at the end of my 234 miles, the Civic had used less gas than the Astra. Moreover, I hadn't had to pay for the electricity in its battery.I look forward to you arguing that what actually happened isn't what actually happened, but I was there and you were not."Regardless, that you don't understand it appears not to have stopped you from pontificating on it. Please, do us all a favor--don't vote."You really are quite unpleasant, aren't you. But thanks for the advice.
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