By on June 18, 2013

Howls of protests ensued when GM stopped disclosing monthly production numbers, touching off, says Automotive News [sub], “concern among industry analysts and economists, as well as suppliers that rely on the data for their production plans.“ The industry paper explains what is wrong with this move:

“For decades, GM and nearly all other major automakers have reported the number of cars and trucks produced at their North American plants each month, broken out by nameplate. The data get folded into numerous economic indicators, including ones published by the Federal Reserve, and are a benchmark for industry insiders to forecast GM’s future production.

But this month GM notified several research providers that publish production data — including IHS Automotive, the Automotive News Data Center and Autodata Corp. — that it will no longer give them those figures, providing instead only the number of wholesale deliveries.”

GM said this move is related to accounting changes. From now on, the profit or loss on a specific vehicle is recognized in the country where the vehicle is sold, not where it’s made, says Automotive News, and continues: “For example, a Cadillac ATS made in Michigan but sold in China will be reflected in the financial results of GM’s Chinese operations, rather than in its North American results.”

Strange that GM wants to expatriate profits while it still sits on a – some say ill-begotten – $30 billion tax loss. Meanwhile, the lack of data is felt as a much bigger loss elsewhere, like in Washington.

Production data are needed all the way from suppliers of parts to the Federal Reserve. The Fed uses production data to get a picture of economic activity. It will fly blind as far as this important part of the economy is concerned. Many in the industry expect other makers to follow GM’s bad example – after all, why should I show mine if GM doesn’t show me theirs?

Automotive News’s Jesse Snyder, a man who usually can’t find anything at GM he does not like, says:

“Any withheld info is bad news, And here’s the worst part. GM knows every bit of this — and chose this path anyhow. Good golly, just how bad is the situation? GM just shot itself in the foot. “

At TTAC, we are not surprised. For many years, we have been a critic of GM’s data policy. The company has a culture of spin and obfuscation. Many times, data did not add up. To the trained eye, the obfuscation usually is transparent. Many untrained writers, and this business is full of them, do swallow the spin, and they regurgitate the undigested spin straight into their keyboards.

Among the world’s top three automakers, GM is the only one that does not publish global data on a monthly basis. It is very scary that the world has to wait for sales and production numbers until they are reconciled with the quarterly report. GM is a public company. The taxpayer, whether we like it or not, has bailed-out the company and still holds a sizable chunk in GM. Shareholders are entitled to key performance data.

GM, and the rest of the world, would be well advised to study and implement the Japanese model of data reporting. Each month, all Japanese makers send out a spin-free standardized spreadsheet that tabulates worldwide production, along with domestic sales and exports. The Japanese automaker association JAMA then plugs it into a big database, accessible to all. If the supposedly inscrutable Japanese can be open, why does GM close up?

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41 Comments on “GM Shuts Off Production Data Delivery – What’s There To Hide?...”


  • avatar
    danio3834

    Why is it so important the Federal Reserve gets this information? What will they do with it that’s so critical when they get it?

    • 0 avatar
      Ron

      The Federal Reserve needs to know production to judge how well the economy is doing — raise interest rates because Detroit is booming or lower interest rates because consumer demand is plummeting.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    Why make the ATS as an example when it will be produced there in a few months?

    http://m.wardsauto.com/asia-pacific/china-build-cadillac-ats-soon-new-cts-sales-follow

    As will one new model every five years according to Ward’s.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    “If the supposedly inscrutable Japanese can be open, why does GM close up?”

    Two reasons: Certain “journalists” trash them at every turn of the mile regardless of how their numbers are interpreted and they want to not release anything that would adversely affect their current stock price as the Treasury attempts to unload it.

    I can tell you from experience, any publically traded company wants to release less information, not more; their goal is to comply with SEC reporting requirements at the minimum. My observation tells me that this trend will accelerate across multiple industries. They then use the monthly industry analyst call to spin their answers on a question by question basis.

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    According to the Automotive News article: “Cain said GM will continue to provide production numbers to the Federal Reserve for its monthly report on economic output but hasn’t decided whether it will give the Fed breakdowns by nameplate.”

    This only matters to sideline chatterers in media.
    GM provides future production estimates to suppliers directly, not through media.

    Wholesale deliveries always equal production anyway. Dealer billing is triggered by shipment from an assembly plant. As typical, much ado about nothing.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      From reading the story, it would seem that wholesale deliveries only tells how many cars are sold where, not where the cars are produced. Just as the article reports that a Cadillac made in the US and sold in China will now be recorded in China’s financials instead of North America’s, conversely this reporting method will be used to avoid talking about the origins of GM vehicles sold in the US. There isn’t much incentive for generating the negative press now unless there is a big payoff later. That payoff comes when imports(beyond NAFTA) permeate GM’s line.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        Your conspiracy theory is highly improbable.

        GM has often been criticized that the way they reported regional business results has not being compliant with GAAP, as they state. The Company’s aggregate results, their bottom line, has been GAAP compliant, but they did not go to the trouble of allocating a share of certain costs by region. These costs were recognized instead at the Corporate level.

        This new way of reporting “factory to dealer” sales, the company’s actual sales results, appears to be a side effect of their move to more detailed regional accounting of results.

        I seriously doubt this had anything to do with obfuscating the origin of vehicles sold here.

        The vast majority of new car buyers don’t care or even know anything about the narrow segment of the automotive press that concerns itself with these details. Any “negative press” you imagine will be virtually irrelevant from a business perspective.
        There is no evidence that GM is planning large scale importation, as they invest $billions in US capital improvements and are the only maker to produce cars as small as the Sonic’s class in country.

        • 0 avatar

          I don’t usually chime in on others’ diatribe exchanges regarding accounting methods, but when I do it’s to criticize Deloitte, GM, and material weaknesses in the financials.

          stay sleepy my friend.

  • avatar
    olddavid

    You need pen an editorial, place it in the heading next to the “Auction to Crusher” piece, then title it “GM and its Multiple Sins”. That way, like minded readers could click, go “he makes a good point” and you could avoid perusing the minutia of Sisyphus-like GM data. Win-win.

  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    “Strange that GM wants to expatriate profits while it still sits on a – some say ill-begotten – $30 billion tax loss”

    Apple was recently chastised by members of the US Congress about keeping a sizeable chunk of its profit offshore in Ireland. One assumes to keep from paying US taxes on it.

    That only goes to show that even smart business leaders will circumvent the US tax burden placed on their companies. Old people and people with individual wealth in the US have done so for decades. The resurrected GM is no different.

    Meanwhile the US Treasury divests itself of some more GM stock and loses another $10Billion.

    It’s all about the game. GM is no different. It’s not about how much you win or lose; it’s about how much you get to keep.

    GM clearly has a leg up on the competition since they lost everything when GM died and are now gambling with the taxpayers money and can’t lose since GM has the full faith and credit of the United States behind them for now and evermore. Amen!

  • avatar

    this breeds mistrust and is a bad boogie no matter how you cut it. for shame GM and on those who blindly defend every corporate conundrum.

  • avatar
    oboylepr

    Not to worry, we can always get the NSA/IRS to hack GM’s sytem to get the data.

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    Are we going to see GM stock price plummet soon? Perhaps it’s time to short it.

  • avatar
    sunridge place

    My take…they used to over-report production in North America with production #’s by plant and model. No reason to share that for the world especially with truck/suv launches going on.

    Perhaps they should provide regional production numbers on a monthly basis.

    Maybe I’m wrong, but I never saw any OEM reporting plant/model production data like GM did until this month.

    Bertel, there never was spin in those #’s. They were just facts. Did other OEMs ever report by model production numbers by plant by geography on a monthly basis? Or a quarterly basis? Or a yearly basis?

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      @Sunridge – Actually this has everything to do with the launch of GM’s new trucks coming in weeks. Absolutely! The new generation is guaranteed to be the biggest FLOP since…
      Since there’s been TRUCKS!!!

      Only crew cabs are being sold/built initially and guess where they’re Hecho’d??? That’s right, 100% Mexico… What “Region” is THAT???????????

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      @Sunridge – Also, ‘only’ launching Hecho EN Mexico, GM crew cabs, initially, GM would be divulging privileged info on the sales ratio of crew cabs vs single/double cabs.

      • 0 avatar
        sunridge place

        DenverMike-

        I thought I learned my lesson with you in the past about trying to explain things…don’t know why I’m trying here.

        Crew Cab started up in late April. Double Cab in July. Regular Cab in August. All in different plants. OMG…some of them are built in Mexico???? No way!!!!!!!! You belong on CSI.

        Should they have sequenced production at the exact same time in all 3 plants to make you happy?

        I don’t think sales rates by cab size are a big mystery to most people that matter in the truck business.

        If you care, do you know of any other OEM that has reported production volume by model and plant in North America on a monthly basis now or in the recent past?

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          @Sunridge – Just to be clear, GM’s plant in Silao Mexico builds crew cabs only. And it’s the ONLY plant that builds GM crew cabs. That’s the plant that started building the 2014 Silverados and Sierras in late April (that you speak of). The rest of the trucks are built in Ft. Wayne and Flint.

          • 0 avatar
            sunridge place

            You are truly a special kind of clueless

            Cab sales mix isn’t a deep secret. Here’s the marketing manager of the Silverado giving the ratios for 2013 and the targets for the new trucks.

            http://www.freep.com/article/20130508/BUSINESS0101/305080137/general-motors-chevrolet-silverado-pickup-trucks

            I have no idea why you’re randomly posting plant information as if you’re some sort of genius and acting as if Mexico production of some Silverados is a secret. Guess what? Pretty much every major OEM assembles some vehicles in Mexico.

            FYI..they do build 2500/3500 Crew Cabs in the US and Fort Wayne can build overflow 1500 Silverado Crew Cabs.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @Sunridge – “Hot Dogs, Apple Pie And Guanajuato”?

            “The HEARTBEAT of MEXICO”???

            Not just “some” Silverados/Sierras are built in Mexico, try “HALF”!
            And these are not just any GMs either. These are their chief money makers and as “American” as they come, Hecho EN Mexico???

            Nothing against Mexico, but it’s a damn shame and we need to remind GM of this. Yes even the shills…

          • 0 avatar
            sunridge place

            In 2012CY, GM built 731,399 Silverados/Sierras

            US= 461,564
            Mexico= 269,835

            37% in Mexico. That is ‘some’ not ‘half’

            http://media.gm.com/content/media/us/en/gm/news.detail.html/content/Pages/news/us/en/2013/Jan/gmsales.html

            click on the production pdf and try some 3rd grade math if you can

            (btw..this is the chart that people are freaking out about since they no longer provide it)

          • 0 avatar

            I have customers who would not buy this year because the truck they wanted was not available as US production. 3/14 they will be. collateral damage or bad mgt? that’s easy.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @Sunridge – Your 3rd grade math is a little OFF. Less than 600K total Silverado/Sierras were built for 2012.

            http://news.pickuptrucks.com/2013/01/december-2012-top-15-pickup-truck-sales.html

            Even 37% is too many jobs outsourced. You’re completely ignoring the point over the trivial. It’s not so trivial for the unemployed UAW worker that gave his/her heart and soul to GM and even drives GM autos exclusively.

            I’ll only buy Hecho IN USA trucks and I think Ford got the message…

          • 0 avatar
            sunridge place

            I see you don’t understand the difference between production and sales do you?

            FYI…those trucks that are built are also sold in places other than the USA.

            Seriously, there’s probably another car website out there that’s better suited to your level of intelligence.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @Sunridge – Unless you’re talking “new car registrations”; “Sales” and “Production” are ‘one and the same’. And GM trucks built in Mexico are still US jobs lost, regardless of where they’re shipped or “sold”.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @Sunridge – Your “totals” must be counting GM trucks “sold” in Mexico for the Mexico market. We don’t usually count those, but you can figure most of those are ‘regular cabs’ and THAT puts us back at the “50 percent crew cabs” “mix” your own link quoted.

          • 0 avatar
            sunridge place

            Yes, there’s also a country called Canada that buys trucks. But, I’m counting the # of vehicle built per my link and showing you that it isn’t half as you tried to state (in all caps with lots of exclamation points)…but closer to a third.

            You are correct on one thing. Assembly jobs in Mexico for GM, Ford, Fiatsler, Toyota, Honda, VW, Nissan etc could be jobs for US citizens if the OEMs didn’t have plants there.

            I just have no idea why its such a big deal to you that this happens and why you think its some sort of ‘gotcha’ moment singling out GM.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @Sunridge – This isn’t about singling out GM. We assume/expect VWs, Nissans and such to be foreign made, even when they’re not. And obviously assume US trucks, of all things (???????), are definitely built in the US. It would be a SLAP in the face of all Americans if they weren’t. NO? US tax payers, especially…

            I have friends that believe they’re GM crew cabs are All-American when they’re more “imports” than some imports. I don’t say a thing… I know a guy that even has “MADE IN THE US” across the back window of his HECHO EN MEXICO Silverado.

            We need to get the word out so this sort of thing doesn’t keep happening!!!

          • 0 avatar
            sunridge place

            I’m not surprised you have friends that aren’t very bright.

            Fight the good fight man. GM’s North American production mix in 2012 was:

            61% US
            21% Canada
            18% Mexico

            Chrysler was:
            56% US
            25% Canada
            19% Mexico

            Ford’s numbers aren’t that easy to find.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @Sunridge – A lot of people aren’t too bright when it comes to cars and knowing what they’re buying. That works to an OEM’s advantage, no doubt.

            But I care less about where certain or any VW or Nissans are made or even Taurus’, 300s and such. US pickups are our biggest sellers. By far. And an All American institution. If you don’t understand that, I can’t help you.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    @Sunridge – Silao Mexico is a great place to build GM trucks. It’s in the beautiful state of Gaunajuato. But why would GM build crew cabs in 2 different spots on North America? Nope only in Silao.

    Last I heard from you, you were claiming the cancelled 4th gen Camaro was “low margin” and was killed off because of that, NOT its crazy “low volume”. You couldn’t back that up and scampered off.. Of course you couldn’t. It doesn’t even make sense…

    While no OEM gives a breakdown of specific models sold, GM’s silence of entire lines is obviously save to embarrassment and has everything to do with the launch of its twin Mexican trucks.

    • 0 avatar

      much as I like the guy and know his heart is usually in the right place (when it isn’t with Pistol Pete in Grand Blanc). the blame here goes directly to Reuss. sorry dude, them’s the facts.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    @DenverSpin
    You say you aren’t UAW? Could of fooled me.

    Anyways, not one person is entitled to a job. Jobs are earned, just like manufacturing in a country isn’t and entitlement for a country.

    If a vehicle is being made in Mexico instead of the US, you must question why. It’s not all about money it’s also about managing workforce and logistics.

    The UAW has strangled the Big 3 with outdated work practices that inefficient and restrictive.

    Unions have had their time in history, like socialism and communism, which I might add are very close to the heart of many union men.

    You are deluded in your reasoning about how the Big 3 should operate. They are right now operating with their hands tied behind their backs.

    The only way to protect and encourage jobs is by becoming better than the competition. Is the UAW competitive? No. Their principle and work practices are hindering real progress in the US.

    Why is it that most every vehicle in the US other than commercial vehicle and a few muscle cars are from an overseas design?

    The US has technical barrier and import tariffs to protect pickups and SUVs.

    Protecting pickup trucks will be the demise of the American full size truck. You must become truly competitive to advance.

    The UAW is scared of overseas competition, hence some of the tactics that are employed to make the government and manufacturers adhere to ridiculous practices and demands.

    But when the shit falls into a heap the UAW will blame management again.

    It about time the UAW is made responsible financially alongside any company that has financial difficulties.

    Any company that has a unionised workforce should be able to take money from all unions across the US when difficulty arises. As the unions should be held as accountable as the company when poor decisions are made.

    In other words unions have to some form of insurance to protect themselves from bad decisions that are made by the union ie pressing businesses to meet ill considered workplace changes and conditions, including pay.

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