Just five years after falling to its lowest level in the past 29 years, North American car and truck production is likely to breech the 17.0 million-unit mark for only the third time in history.
Having run at a rapid pace for most of the year, car and truck assembly plants now are scheduled to build 4,443,000 units in the fourth quarter, a 5.6% increase over like 2013’s 4,172,000 completions.
The strong fourth-quarter slate is enough to push vehicle output to 17.3 million-plus units, a 5.3% gain on 2013’s 4,112,000 completions, to third position behind the record 17,659,700 units built in 2000 and the 17,616,121 vehicles turned out in 1999.
The industry’s strong finish would come just five years after output sank to just 8,761,823 units in 2009, at the height of the economic meltdown.
Although 2014 car production, at a scheduled 7,057,800 units, is 78.2% higher than the 3,961,589 built in 2009, truck output is set to reach an all-time record of 10,313,100 units this year, more than double the 4,800,234 built five years earlier and 4.4% more than the prior benchmark of 9,876,983 turned out in 2004.
A look at just-released October-December output plans shows December has been earmarked for 1,292,100 completions, a 19.4% increase from prior-year’s 1,081,800 assemblies.
In comparison, October production is expected to net a 2.7% increase, while output in November, barring changes, is expected to trail year-ago by 1.7%.
The Q4 slate follows a robust third-quarter tally, set to reach a planned 4,226,800 units, 6.8% ahead of prior-year’s 3,956,800.
Among the major automakers, only Ford is seen building fewer vehicles this year than in like-2013.
Although Ford has yet to reveal its official Q4 plans, output for the Dearborn automaker currently is forecast by WardAuto at 720,500 units, 4.2% less than the 752,100 vehicles it built on October-December a year earlier. That is better than the 4.4% third-quarter decline Ford has programmed, but the company is still likely to end the year with a 3.0% shortfall compared with 2013, thanks to an 11.1% falloff in car output.
GM production has been programmed for a 4.2% Q4 decline that is expected to net a 3.0% downturn for the year, with a 4.9% truck output gain partially offset by a 1.9% decline in car assemblies.
In contrast, Chrysler is expected to end the year with a 12.0% output gain on 2013, due in part to a planned 5.3% fourth-quarter boost, coming on the heels of an estimated 16.6% year-over-year third-quarter gain.