Tuesday

Chrysler Learns Delphi's Number Games ?

Yesterday we talked about the numbers games that got bankrupt Delphi in hot water (and litigation) with the SEC. Today, we see that Chrysler is also up to some number games of its own.

WardsAuto.com is reporting that unlike other manufacturers, Chrysler has been building cars its dealers don't need and can't sell, and piling up a 100,000 vehicle backlog of unsold vehicles (parked out back?) that it just forgot to count as unsold inventory.

Of course, doing that made their public numbers look a lot better than they really were. Some say that little-used accounting practice disguised Chrysler's overall market picture at a time when it was really bleaker than the industry thought.

Now, we learn that at the end of September Chrysler's reported inventory neared 529,000 vehicles. With that glut, which some dealers don't like having to live with, now may be a good time to bargain yourself into a good deal ... or not.

In its defense, Chrysler says it's a common practice but Ford's George Pipas reportedly scoffed at the notion, saying "Absolutely false." The American Honda and Nissan officials also are reported to have said the same thing. Meanwhile, Chrysler says its practice keeps the factories "humming" at a time when the third quarter loss was reported at a staggering $1.5 billion. At that rate the corporate giant could end up humming its way into a one man band in an empty auditorium and falling flat on its face to boot.

Now, rumor has it that Mercedes has shipped in executives under a program called "Project ReFocus" and whose aim is to cut costs and improve efficiency. As they said once before on the streets in Detroit, here come the Germans again!

It doesn't take a German rocket scientist to figure out that it's stupid to build 529,000 cars that aren't being sold. Apparently someone keeps replaying that line from the movie Field of Dreams... "if you build it they will come."

Fruit, like new cars, can't sit on the shelf too long or things can begin to go wrong. After all, fresh lemons can turn sour and rancid with too much age. Thank goodness we have a Lemon Law that's ready for the day when Chrysler ships all those cars out of its back "Field of Dreams."