General Motors Co. (GM) dealers are still dealing with the aftereffects of a six-week strike by the United Auto Workers.
Three weeks after the walkout ended, dealers have begun getting some of the parts needed for service departments and body shops. And though the inventory of new cars and trucks remained fairly robust during the shutdown, some dealers are concerned about a lag in new deliveries as production gets back up to speed and car-haulers make their way to showrooms.
The UAW's national strike against GM shut down 55 facilities across the U.S., stopping production of parts and an estimated 300,000 new vehicles, costing GM nearly $3 billion. GM dealers say they took hits to their bottom lines on both the sales and service sides.
At Motor City Buick GMC in Bakersfield, CA, new-vehicle sales were down 8% in October and are expected to be off 8% this month.
"We are hopeful we can make up some of that due to pent-up demand in December, but December is always a big month, so it’s kind of hard to set a new benchmark on top of an old benchmark," said John Pitre, chief operating officer at the dealership.
But three weeks after the strike ended, Motor City Buick GMC is feeling the pinch even more than it did during much of the walkout.
"We didn’t feel it for the first three weeks of the strike because our pipeline is about two to three weeks long," Pitre said. "We are feeling it much more now than we did in October."
At Matthew-Hargreaves Chevrolet in Royal Oak, MI, general manager Walt Tutak expects to see the sales side of the business feel a delayed strike impact as they await new models that normally would already be on the lot.
Ideally, Tutak likes to have 500 vehicles — a two-month supply — on the ground, with another 250 coming in for delivery during the month to make up for the 250 that will be sold. When this process gets interrupted, he said, "You're going to have a shortage."
GM still had an ample 81-day supply of cars, trucks and SUVs two weeks into the strike, above the industry's average of 66 days, according to. That cushioned the impact.