By on November 16, 2009

I'm dreaming of a red Christmas... just like the ones we've gotten used to...

Well, we’ve already been warned that GM’s 4Q cash burn and financial results will be worse than the just-released 3Q results; now we have another reason why. Even though GM has been averaging just over $4,000 per vehicle in incentives, a traditional Red-Toe-Tag sale has been planned for year’s end, reports Automotive News [sub]. As in years past, the answer lies in shoddy inventory management. GM’s Susan Docherty explains:

All of our efforts will be to sell down our remaining 2009 inventory. We’ll have a little bit of carryover of that into the first quarter of 2010, but the objective is to keep our inventory somewhere between 425,000 to 450,000 units. I’d rather have very slow, incremental movement up [in market share] than the peaks and valleys we saw all over 2008 and of course in the first six months of the 2009 calendar year

Wait, there were peaks to go along with all the valleys in 2009? More to the point, how does Docherty’s desire for organic growth square with the decision to spike sales at year’s end with as-yet non-specific financing and cash incentives? The real irony is that GM is having an easier than expected time moving its remaining 10,000 Pontiacs and 8,000 Saturns; The Red Tag event is for Chevrolet, Buick-GMC gets the “Holiday Event” and Cadillac will hold a “Seasons Best” sale. Non-stop incentives on “core brands,” goes against much of the “sell the product, not the deal” rhetoric coming out of GM post-bankruptcy. And unless holiday sales blow up, the profit-sapping incentives will help justify GM’s 4Q loss warnings. The turnaround still has yet to show itself.

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