It's Truck Month But No Trucks Are Coming

Photo: AP Photo/David Zalubowski

It’ll be a solemn Truck Month at Chevy and GMC dealers this TruckTober, as parts shortages from the ongoing United Auto Workers strike forced its last North American pickup plant to shut down last week.

While GM’s Flint and Fort Wayne truck production facilities are staffed by UAW workers who stopped working on day one of the strike, the plant in Silao, Mexico was still cranking out about 1,300 pickup trucks per day. Though the company’s workers in Mexico aren’t striking, the Silao plant needs parts from UAW-staffed facilities to keep running. On October 1, after exhausting its available suply of parts, GM idled the plant.

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As Automotive News points out, that means GM is starting Truck Month without the ability to produce new trucks. Even still, Chevy is aggressively incentivizing the Silverado for Truck Month, offering up to $9,510 off the Silverado 1500.

Clearly, the company’s truck supply is still strong enough to support high-dollar incentives. But as more plants outside the U.S. grind to a halt and suppliers are forced to trim production, GM’s feeling the strike more and more every day. If it causes a serious truck supply problem, that’s going to cost GM big. Per Automotive News:

GM was “not caught in a good position for a strike with trucks,” said Tyson Jominy, vice president of data and analytics consulting for J.D. Power. “Truck supply may start to get a little tight soon, if it’s not already getting to that point.”

GM’s lost profits have been piling up since UAW members walked out of its plants Sept. 16. Through Sunday, Oct. 6, GM will have lost $660 million in profit, according to Anderson Economic Group in East Lansing, Mich. Daily losses started at less than $10 million per day, the firm said, but will catapult to $90 million per day if the strike extends to a month.

And if GM was hoping to retake the second-place spot from Ram in the full-size truck segment, that’s very unlikely at this point. Ram was already beating the Silverado by over 52,000 units for the year. This would be the first full calendar year ever in which the Silverado lost to the Ram.

But while that sounds bad, the news is a lot better when you include the GMC Sierra. For the third quarter, combined sales of the Sierra and Silverado actually beat out the Ford F-Series. As a whole, GM is moved more full-size trucks than anyone last quarter. This strike, though, threatens to change that.

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And that’s important because it doesn’t seem likely that GM will keep its sales lead for long. The Silverado and Sierra lineups have been wholly redone over the past two years, with all-new versions of the 1500 and HD lineups. Ford, on the other hand, hasn’t fully redesigned the F-Series in five years.

As Ford prepares to roll-out its next-generation F-150 and Super Duty, GM’s window of excitement and sales opportunity may be short.

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Mack Hogan

Mack Hogan is Jalopnik's Weekend Editor, but you may know him from his role as CNBC's car critic or his brave (and maligned) takes on Twitter. Most people agree that you shouldn't listen to him.