US: summer to bring idling auto plants image

Although in recent years automakers usually reduced their summer production pauses for the manufacturing facilities, in 2014 the situation is unlikely to occur again.

The main contributing factor – as sales continue to pick up pace – is the very harsh winter, which curbed sales in the first few months and had dealers and plants building up bigger inventories on their lots.

The record bone chilling temperatures and heavy snowfalls in many parts of the countries are the main factor for the rising inventory levels, and according to Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting at Troy-based LMC Automotive, automakers are now ready to disregard skipping or reducing the typical two-week summer vacations at North American auto production facilities.

“We’re likely not going to see an acceleration this year,” Schuster said in an interview. “We’ll see production increases in ‘pockets’ but I don’t know if it will be as widespread as in recent years.”

For the moment, Ford, Chrysler and General Motors have not revealed any plans for the summer, but according to LMC vehicle inventory levels are still higher than the healthy 60-65 days, at 69 in May, down from 76 two months ago. So far, with sales up 3.1% from the same period in 2013 to a total of 5.13 million, US car sales seem poised to exceed for the year the 16 million mark, for the first time since 2007.