It’s my favorite time of the month when we review the number of vehicles for sale on dealer lots and try to draw some conclusions. If you’re a Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram dealer, uh, you’re having about as good of a morning as San Francisco’s football team.
What a game last night, huh? It wouldn’t be The Morning Dump without a little reference to last night’s Superb Owl game. My favorite aspect of football is special teams, so it was quite the affair for me and I believe Harrison Butker was the real MVP.
Am I going to talk about Stellantis some more? Yes, I am, because there are some juicy thoughts about Italy v. Stellantis I’d like to share with y’all. And while we’re talking about Stellantis we might as well talk about Geely-Renault’s potential hybrid tie-up.
Finally, GM and LG have a deal to help keep GM’s electric vehicles compliant with IRA regulations. Today is going to rule. Let’s do it.
America Has A Lot Of Hornets, Chargers, Challengers… Do You See A Pattern Here?
The first rule of data reporting is “know-thy-data,” and the data I use for these articles comes from CarEdge. The nice thing is. I worked with CarEdge on the Trimflation article. and the folks there were super helpful, so I have a decent sense of how it all works.
CarEdge scrapes publicly available listings for a huge percentage of dealership websites (something like 90%) and so they can see pricing changes, listings, and when stuff is removed from the site (presumably sold); they then draw some interesting conclusions from this info. Automakers don’t share a lot of granular details on their sales, so this is a smart way to try to make some reasonable guesses about the state of the market in real-time (we do get average transaction price much later via companies like TransUnion and quarterly/monthly sales, but it’s a big time delay).
This is how we found out last year that there was a 517-day supply of the Dodge Hornet. The good news is that, while Dodge Hornets still lead the list of highest inventory/sales pace, it’s at least down to a 480-day market supply with an average selling price of $41,114. This seems like a high price given, you know, the Dodge Hornet of it all.
If you were curious, “Markey Day Supply” takes the total number of vehicles for sale and looks at how long it takes to sell one of those vehicles to determine the MDS. A dealer wants enough vehicles on the lot to make customers happy, but not so many that a dealer is basically paying to keep the cars there and feels pressured to lower profits by cutting a deal. A good MDS is somewhere between 40-50-day supply.
Unsurprisingly, most of the vehicles on the list are at Stellantis-brand car dealers, with the Challenger and 300 high on the list, as well as the Ram 2500 and 3500 and Maserati Levante.
But I’m most interested in the Dodge Charger, which ended production in December and has a 477-day market supply with a total of 33,629 for sale nationwide. That’s a lot, especially with an average selling price of $44,375.
What’s going on here? A few things. Sedans are not as popular as they used to be, and even with lower gas prices a big RWD sedan has only a certain appeal. But CarEdge makes a good point as well:
All Stellantis models, not just the ones mentioned here, are highly negotiable right now. However, some CDJR dealers are notorious for resisting negotiation, despite the massive oversupply.
Why would some CDJR dealers not want to negotiate?
Think about it this way. All the LX platform cars are dead, so that means your Chrysler dealer is just Pacificas. Jeep is trimming down its models, but at least you’ve got Wranglers and Grand Cherokees. Dodge is losing the Charger and the Durango. You’re left with Hornets and… uh, Hornets for Dodge
New stuff is coming, but it’s not coming fast enough, so once you sell out of Chargers and 300s and Challengers there’s not a lot left. Floorplan loans (i.e. the loans dealers take out to buy the cars they sell customers) catch up with dealers eventually, but I get why some dealers are holding out as long as they can.
The flipside of this also makes sense. The more popular a vehicle, the shorter the MDS will be. The same is true of inventory, even an unpopular vehicle could end up with a smaller MDS if there aren’t enough being built.
As our contributor Parker pointed out last week, once you drive a Range Rover Sport you want a Range Rover Sport. I still kinda want either a Corolla Cross Hybrid or a Kia Carnival so it’s nice to at least see the Corolla Cross Hybrid finally off of this list.
So what’s going on with Stellantis? Clearly, the company isn’t distracted by anything.
Stellantis V. Italy, Redux
Oh man, Stellantis v. Italy round three!
Here’s a quick refresher, if you weren’t paying attention.
Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares (pictured right) was a little peeved that Italy’s EV incentives weren’t strong enough, which explains why the company is having to cut back on production in the country. Fiat, also, wasn’t the biggest brand in Italy at the end of last year, as the company was outsold by VW for the first time since WWII.
Also for the first time since WWII, Italy has a new, very right-wing government led by PM Georgia Meloni (pictured left). The government is trying to contend with a slow economy and doesn’t like the fact that Stellantis is a more French company than it used to be, since it merged with PSA a few years ago. Meloni’s government wants Tavares to build more cars in Italy and has critiqued Stellantis for building uncompetitive models.
This got weird last week when Italy’s Finance Minister said that Italy would be down with buying some of Stellantis (which is partially owned by the French government).
There’s some good commentary from Automotive News that explains why this is weird:
Such a statement is pure propaganda ahead of crucial EU elections this spring, firstly because the Italian government doesn’t have the extra 4.3 billion euros ($4.6 billion) it would need to buy a 6.1 percent stake in Stellantis, whose market capitalization is close to 70 billion euros ($75.5 billion).
It would also go in the exact opposite direction of what Meloni’s government is trying to avoid: Taking more money from taxpayers’ pockets in a slow economy, then selling stakes in previously privatized public utilities to prevent a tax increase.
The minister of economy and finance, Giancarlo Giorgetti, an expert in economic matters, on Friday put the last nail in the coffin for Urso’s idea. “If the government would consider buying a stake in an Italian automaker, I would rather prefer Ferrari to Stellantis,” he was quoted as saying.
LOL, burn. This is my favorite global automotive spat.
As Reuters points out, Stellantis has way more chips to play here:
Stellantis’ capacity utilisation rate at its European factories stood at 56% last year, down from 64% in 2019 and well below the 71% rate at Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE), opens new tab, according to GlobalData data provided to Reuters. Automakers aim for at least 80% capacity utilization.
Stellantis is using its excess production capacity for leverage in bargaining for subsidies and policy support from Rome and governments in other countries. In the United States, state and federal officials offered subsidies to persuade Tavares not to close a Jeep plant in Illinois, which will now be used to build a new midsize pickup truck that fills a gap in the company’s U.S. model lineup.
You can just imagine Carlos Tavares, twirling his mustache while saying “It would be a shame if we had to lose a shift at Melfi…”
Renault-Geely Are Going To Do Hybrids
Amid all of this global intrigue with Stellantis has been the suggestion that maybe the French government might try to merge Stellantis and Renault much in the way that Peugeot and Citroen came together in the past to form PSA, which eventually merged with FCA to form Stellantis.
Renault doesn’t want this merger to happen, so a good way for Renault to avoid this fate is to find another partner to help it offset costs and develop engines and hybrids for the next, interim generation of vehicles.
Oh, look at that, a Reuters scoop:
French carmaker Renault (RENA.PA), and Chinese rival Geely (0175.HK), expect to finalise a joint venture for their combustion and hybrid engines towards the end of February, two sources close to the matter told Reuters.
At the same time, Saudi Aramco (2223.SE), is set to announce the signing of a memorandum of understanding to invest in the venture, one of the sources said, a move that would confirm Aramco’s letter of intent from March last year.
This all makes sense to me. Aramco gets to diversify while also still investing in combustion engines, Geely gets to continue to put its hands in yet another tarte, and Renault gets some capital.
GM/LG Make A $19 Billion Battery Supply Deal
GM may be thinking about ways to get back into the hybrid game, but it’s still looking at electric vehicles long-term. Its big battery partnership has been with South Korea’s LG Chem and that’s looking to continue.
Through the long-term supply contract, starting in 2026 and running through 2035, LG Chem will supply GM with more than 500,000 tons of cathode materials, which is enough to power 5 million battery electric vehicles with a range of 310 miles (500 kilometers) on a single charge. The materials supplied will come from LG Chem’s under-construction plant in Tennessee, which will enable GM to meet EV subsidy criteria set by the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act.
“This contract builds on GM’s commitment to create a strong, sustainable battery EV supply chain to support our fast-growing EV production needs,” said Jeff Morrison, GM vice president, global purchasing and supply chain, in a Wednesday statement. “Importantly, this work with LG Chem will happen in Tennessee and strengthens the North American supply chain at a critical time for the industry.”
If you weren’t aware “strengthens the North American supply chain” is automaker speak for “GIMME MY MONEY.”
What I’m Listening To While Writing TMD
Thanks to Red Barchetta in the Twisters article for pointing out how great and weird the original Twister soundtrack was. Tori Amos, Van Halen, k.d. lang, Mark Knopfler, freakin’ Shania Twain.
The Big Question
We did this with Nissan last week so let’s do it with Stellantis. Which Stellantis models are truly competitive in the current market? You can do Europe or America or both!