Unbelievable demand for new vehicles in North America, and especially the U.S., is leading to another monthly production overbuild in April and may signal production increases for what remains of the second quarter (see complete data p.7).
Ward's estimated North American vehicle output for April is 1.516 million units, equal to 101.8% of what manufacturers as a whole had scheduled for the month (see Ward's Automotive Reports — April 12, '99, p.1). Individually, trucks are on tap for a build equal to nearly 103% of plan, while cars are estimated at 101%.
The overbuild indicates automakers see no letup in coming months from the current retail sales boom, as they seemingly continue to ratchet up production on demand to meet dealer pleas for more inventory. The momentum from April will carry into May, with the industry expected to increase planned volumes for that month and possibly improve what's already set to be a record quarter of production.
|Cars||Trucks||Total Vehicles||Net Chg. (Units)|
|Est.||% Sched.||Est.||% Sched.||Est.||% Sched.||Car||Truck|
|TOT. NON-BIG 3||247,600||101.6||97,900||104.7||345,500||102.5||4,000||4,400|
|TOT. N. AM.||717,800||100.7||798,600||102.8||1,516,400||101.8||4,660||21,600|
|Est. is estimated output for the current month by Ward's. |
% Sched. is the percentage the estimate equals of scheduled production for the month. Trucks includes medium- and heavy-duty makes. Manufacturer totals include Mexico output.
DaimlerChrysler Corp. (less Mercedes/Freightliner) andMotor Co. each are poised for major overbuilds in both cars and trucks. The extra truck output comes at Ford, despite a slight reduction in weekly overtime in April from March, a result of its Louisville, KY, plant (Explorer) taking a three-week respite from its grueling overtime pace. However, DCC added more weekly overtime at St. Louis South (minivans) and Dodge City (Ram/Dakota) in Warren, MI.
Midsize car inventories are mounting as the industry heads into the peak sales period for family passenger vehicles.'s estimated 104% car overbuild comes with the first overtime this year for both Taurus/Sable assembly plants. Also, DCC increased the line speed at its Sterling Heights, MI, plant (Breeze/Cirrus/Stratus) in April.
In addition the floodgates are ready to burst for theAccord and Camry. Inventories of both vehicles were well above year-ago at the end of March, and their production largely is what's behind Honda of America Mfg. Inc.'s 103% and Toyota Motor Mfg. U.S.A. Inc.'s even bigger 108% car overbuilds.
With the industry's estimated production overbuild, the Ward's U.S. dealer inventory forecast for domestically made vehicles, alone, calls for an April 30 tally of 3.13 million units, 1.2% below year-ago, with the forecast days' supply unchanged at 68.