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General Motors reported higher third-quarter US auto sales Tuesday behind robust consumer demand, notching a strong performance that will be tested by an ongoing labor strike.
The big US automaker scored a 21 percent jump in auto deliveries to 674,336 behind strong gains in models such as the popular Silverado pickup line and the GMC truck brand.
The impressive sales come as GM -- along with Detroit rivals Ford and Stellantis -- faces a widening United Auto Workers strike as the union seeks hefty wage increases and a fortification of benefits.
Some analysts have said GM is the worst-positioned of the three companies because of its more modest vehicle inventory levels.
All four of GM's main brands scored sales gains, with three of the four seeing double-digit increases, reflecting improved vehicle availability after supply chain difficulties crimped inventories in the year-ago period.
"Customer demand for our vehicles continues to be strong, and that's the biggest aspect you see in our results and will drive us going forward," said a GM spokesman, who pointed out that GM's quarter-ending inventories of 442,586 autos represents the highest level since late 2020.
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But that figure is far below pre-pandemic levels. At the end of 2018, GM had 755,000 available units.
A presentation from Cox Automotive said GM brands Chevrolet and Cadillac had lower-than-average US inventories, while Ford and Stellantis brands Jeep and Ram had supplies above the national average.
"The strike could not have come at a worse time given their recent momentum," Cox economist Charlie Chesbrough said of GM last week on a webcast.
Jonathan Smoke, another Cox economist, described the strike's impact as "muted" thus far.
But Smoke characterized a long-running stoppage as a threat given that automakers have only recently improved their vehicle availability.
"If the strike lasts beyond Thanksgiving (in late November), the industry is likely to see a setback and a repeat of much of the dynamics we saw in 2021," when inventories were crimped due to supply chain issues, he said.
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