Thinner lots amid crises a plus for GM, dealers

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DETROIT — General Motors has spent the past year playing catch-up on production, hamstrung by the 40-day UAW strike last fall, and the industry’s two-month coronavirus shutdown in the spring. But tight inventories have come with silver linings: high dealer margins as customers pay closer to sticker price reduced carrying costs and a record profit in North America for GM last quarter.

It still has more ground to make up, but long term, GM doesn’t plan to replenish supplies to the level that dealers had long been accustomed to having on their lots.

“This has really taught us how we can — if we have the right products — turn it, sell it and actually be profitable selling new vehicles again,” said Charlie Gilchrist, president of Gilchrist Automotive in Texas. “It’s almost a blessing in disguise for us.”

Dealers don’t miss the days of vehicles sitting on their lots for months, though they still are desperate for more pickups, SUVs, and other highly profitable, fast- turning vehicles.

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