Chevy Silverado Sales Dropping As Production Ramps Up

Chevy has been mired in third place for Silverado sales for the first time ever. It has slumped throughout 2019. With the recent UAW strike, it saw supplies of its pickups thin out. Now, it’s desperately trying to beef them up with mandatory overtime and Sunday shifts at its two truck facilities. In spite of that, it seems insurmountable for Chevy to regain number two in sales from Ram based on production figures so far.

Things should be going a lot better for Chevy than they are. Silverado sales of its all-new trucks have been down all year. It’s on pace to equal at best 2018, and Chevy has to be worried. Slipping to number three in sales after introducing an all-new design goes counter to how it’s been in the past.

We don’t think sales are dropping due to low inventories

2019 Chevrolet Silverado
A General Motors Co. pickup trucks on the line in their Flint Assembly plant on June 12, 2019 in Flint, Michigan. (Photo by JEFF KOWALSKY / AFP) (Photo credit should read JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP/Getty Images)

Chevy must know why Silverado sales are down, but we don’t think it’s because of lower pickup supplies. Packed with so many new features and engines it should be outselling the previous model. It’s just a better truck. But the negative reaction to the styling-especially the front end is one big problem.

The other is the Silverado interior that, when compared to the new Ram 1500 pickup, looks much less dynamic. In both reviews and on the street people have been disappointed. But, Chevy can’t do much in the short term about either.

What it can do is crank up production. Mandatory overtime has been initiated at both plants Chevy makes trucks according to the Detroit News. Light-duty Silverado 1500 and Sierra 1500 production is done at the Fort Wayne, Indiana, plant; while heavy-duty Silverados and Sierras are built at GM’s Flint, Michigan, plant.

Fort Wayne production is being mandated for Sundays

A parking lot with multiple new Chevy Silverados
GMC and Chevrolet pickup trucks sit in a parking lot outside the GM Fort Wayne Assembly Plant | Joshua Lott/Getty Images

In particular, the Fort Wayne plant is seeing three shifts five days a week plus two Saturdays every month. It also saw Sunday production this last week and will see more. 

In anticipation of a possible strike, GM cranked up production during the summer. When workers went out on strike in September GM had an 84-day supply of trucks. Normal inventory would be at 69 days. Chevy is especially concerned about heavy-duty truck supplies now because it only had a few months for manufacturing the all-new 2500 before the walkout in September.

The new UAW contract allows for mandatory overtime “when production is lost during an emergency situation.” GM says it lost production of over 300,000 vehicles during the six-week walkout. 

Dealers must have a large selection of trucks that appeal to businesses

GM Chevrolet Silverado trucks are displayed at a car dealership
GM Chevrolet Silverado trucks are displayed at a car dealership | Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Having a big selection of trucks available at dealerships is important because they are used by businesses. With so many variables needed by companies and individuals that use trucks for work, the right truck needs to be on the lot.

Especially business fleet sales have been surging as companies replace old and worn-out equipment with new replacements. If the inventory is limited customers will find what they need where a greater selection is offered. That means mostly Ford or Ram.

GM is now investing over $150 million in the Flint plant to help increase production. It just finished investing $24 million in the Fort Wayne plant for the same purpose. GM said it would also invest $175 million for another heavy-duty Silverado and Sierra plant in Brookville, Ohio. This will augment Flint’s production not replace it.