The nation may be in the grips of a continent-sized cold spell but automotive sales continue to run hot, as they have for much of the year. Still, November’s unexpectedly strong numbers only barely conceal the fact that manufacturers may have gotten a bit too ambitious trying to take advantage of the best new car market since before the economy went into a nosedive six years ago.
While there are a handful of hot new models, like the 2014 Jeep Cherokee and the ’14 Chevrolet Corvette, that are flying off showrooms almost as fast as they’re delivered from the factories, dealers around the country are reporting bulging inventories of many other products, such as the Acura RLX and the Ford Fusion.
And that’s worrying industry planners and analysts alike. In years past, the build-up would have been a recipe for trouble, makers playing a game of chicken by ramping up incentives to maintain sales and market share – even at the cost of profits. It was precisely that sort of strategy that helped nearly sink the Detroit Three as the U.S. auto market collapsed in 2009 and 2010.