GM Is Making Production Numbers Secret

Assembly Line

This month, General Motors (NYSE:GE) informed several automotive research firms that it would no longer publicly disclose its monthly production numbers, concerning industry analysts and economists who gauge the company’s health off those figures and creating problems for suppliers that rely on the data for their production plans. Instead, GM will provide only the number of wholesale deliveries to dealerships.

GM, and nearly all other major automakers, reported the number of cars and trucks manufactured at their North American plants, broken out by nameplate, for decades. The numbers were then incorporated into numerous economic indicators, including those published by the Federal Reserve, and used as a benchmark for industry experts to forecast the automaker’s future production.

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The company has argued that because of the way it now records its financial results for its vehicles, the data is less relevant. Last quarter, GM began assigning the profit or loss on a specific vehicle to the country in which it was sold rather than where it was manufactured. For example, a Chevrolet Malibu manufactured in Detroit but sold in China will be included in the results of GM’s Chinese operations not its North American results. Company spokesman Jim Cain said the change will give it a clearer representation of its profitability across regions. “Production gives you an incomplete data set to look at,” he told Automotive News.