PONTIAC, MI – General Motors’ overstock of large pickup trucks is continuing to improve each day, says GM North America President Mark Reuss, who nevertheless is pessimistic the auto maker can hit its 220,000-unit inventory target by year’s end.

“We’re selling through (the inventory) right now in December,” Reuss tells reporters after unveiling the redesigned-for-’14 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra here. “We’re looking good. We’re in a good place.”

Inventories of the ’13 Silverado and Sierra have been rising since the summer months. In November, stocks had reached 138 days for the Silverado and 146 for the Sierra, according to WardsAuto data.

The industry average generally falls between 90 and 100 days. Excess inventories can be costly. Auto makers must employ discounts to move unsold models and dealers must use financing to keep them on their lots.

The overstock led GM to concede earlier this month it would not meet its inventory goal set earlier this year. Large pickup supply closed November at 237,690 units, WardsAuto data shows, 17,690 more than planned for the end of December.

GM finds itself riding a thin line on its pickup inventories. It needs to bolster stocks as it takes down assembly plants to retool for the new models, which start production in Fort Wayne, IN, and Silao, Mexico, in second-quarter 2013.

But in a quirk of timing this summer, GM launched its ’13 Silverado and Sierra 45 days ahead of the competition.

Not wanting to match incentives of rivals selling down ’12 models by discounting its ’13 models, GM pickup sales tumbled 8.4% in November while stocks grew, leaving the auto maker a choice between raising incentives or idling assembly plants already headed for extra downtime during the Christmas holidays.

Reuss says the industry sales mix in the first two weeks of December shifted, and GM, Ford and Chrysler are selling ’13 models head-to-head. GM’s large pickup incentives are now at the industry average, he adds.

“We’re competitive,” Reuss says. “We saw incentives $2,700 above what we were doing. We know what happened. We sold our ’12 (models) down sooner than anyone else.

“(But) we’re off to a good start this month,” he adds, noting December pickup sales are unfolding “much better” than November, and GM will finish the year with inventories close to its originally projected levels.

jamend@wardsauto.com